A killer who told his brother “I hope you die” as he stabbed him to death in a drug-driven murder has been sentenced to life.
James Rutherford stabbed his older brother Gary Wilkie eight times during a frenzied attack in the middle of the street on August 2 last year.
Rutherford had taken a “cocktail of drugs” before the murder and thought his brother had stolen money from him, leading to his fatal attack.
Newcastle Crown Court heard unarmed Mr Wilkie, 45, yell at his younger brother ‘don’t stab me there’ as Rutherford held him up and stabbed him repeatedly.
When Mr. Wilkie told Rutherford he was bleeding, the killer shudderingly replied ‘he knew that and he hoped he died’.
James Rutherford (pictured) stabbed his older brother Gary Wilkie eight times during a frenzied attack in the middle of the street on August 2 last year
Rutherford, 35, with no permanent address, was sentenced to life for the attack and must serve a minimum of 17 and a half years in prison before he has any chance of parole.
Newcastle Crown Court learned that despite different fathers, the siblings grew up together and were close throughout their lives.
In the hours before the murder, Rutherford had taken a ‘cocktail’ of heroin, cocaine, diazepam and cannabis before falling asleep at a friend’s house in Blyth, Northumberland, where Mr Wilkie had been.
But when Rutherford woke up early, he found his brother had made off with his phone and 160 pounds.
Prosecutor David Lamb KC told the court that the defendant then went to track down his brother and found him with their grandmother.
The court heard the woman was awakened by the sound of the couple talking in her kitchen downstairs, but Mr. Wilkie left the address and was followed by Rutherford.
The pair made their way to Duke’s Gardens, where Rutherford took a knife from his waistband and launched the attack – which was captured on a Ring Doorbell camera from a neighboring property.
The footage showed Rutherford threatening his victim with a “big f****** knife” and that he was “going to do it here.”
Newcastle Crown Court heard the frenzied attack took place in Blyth, Northumberland, in the early hours of August 2, 2022. Pictured are forensic officers at the scene of the murder
Mr Lamb told the court that Mr Wilkie was heard saying he did not have his money, but the defendant replied that he did not believe him.
“Initially, both the Defendant and Gary Wilkie stood upright and the Defendant is holding his brother’s outer clothing while simultaneously stabbing his right hand with a knife,” Mr Lamb said.
Mr. Wilkie then fell to the floor with Rutherford standing over him. He then inflicted two more stab wounds, the court heard.
The victim was able to “partially stand” two more times before collapsing again.
Mr Lamb told the court that the victim was conscious for 20 minutes after the attack before passing out and never waking up again.
He added, “When Gary Wilkie told the defendant that he was bleeding, the defendant told him that he knew that and that he hoped he died.”
The court heard that the woman who lived in the house with the doorbell footage ran to Mr Wilkie to help Mr Wilkie and asked her husband to give some towels before the police arrived.
Another neighbor, who knew the brothers, also called emergency services when she realized what had happened and had previously heard Rutherford say he was going to stab Mr. Wilkie in the kidney.
Mr Lamb said: ‘She heard Gary Wilkie tell his brother ‘don’t use that’ and ‘don’t stab me there’.
The defendant replied by saying “don’t make me do this”.
Rutherford, who had been drunk, saw his brother bleed to death. He is now sentenced to life and must serve a minimum of 17 and a half years in prison before being eligible for parole
“She described him (Gary) wailing and screaming as his brother stood over him.”
Soon after, the woman heard a knock on her door from Rutherford asking her to call an ambulance.
Police arrived at the scene at 3:50 am, where they found Mr. Wilkie conscious on the floor, but with significant loss of blood.
Rutherford came out of an alley with his “head in his hands” and later picked up the knife and threw it on the ground, before officers grabbed the knife.
The court heard that the knife was later forensically analyzed and that the defendant’s DNA was found on the handle.
Despite the best efforts of medics and police, Mr. Wilkie was pronounced dead at the scene shortly after 4:30 am.
An autopsy revealed that he suffered eight stab wounds to the scalp, chest, arms and left leg.
Rutherford was initially arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, but was upgraded to murder while in the police van, the court heard.
At an earlier hearing in November, he pleaded guilty to the charge. He also admitted to having a knife in his possession.
Judge Paul Sloan sentenced Rutherford to life behind bars with a minimum term of 17.5 years.
The judge said, “The murder victim was your own brother, Gary Wilkie, who was 46 years old when you killed him.
“You have a long history of drug abuse. On August 1, 2022, he consumed a cocktail of drugs during that day and night, including heroin, cocaine, diazepam and cannabis.
“When he denied having the money, you pulled out a knife. You threatened him and said, “I’ll kill you, look, look.
“Then, holding Gary Wilkie in one hand, you stabbed him with the knife in the other.”
The judge added: “Despite doing everything we could to save Gary Wilkie, it proved impossible to stop the blood flow.
“There is only one sentence for murder. That’s life imprisonment.
“However, I am required by law to specify the minimum jail time you must serve before being eligible for parole.”
Toby Hedworth, defending himself, told the court that Rutherford will have to live with the “enormity” of his actions for the rest of his life.
He said, “He realizes and has to live with the knowledge that he has not only taken the life of his brother to whom he has always been close, but also that he has taken the life of his mother’s son.
“He realizes how bad this is for his wider family.”
Mr Hedworth added that his client had obtained a number of certificates while in prison and hopes to spend his time well while serving his sentence