A Leicestershire man has been found guilty of the murder of 87-year-old Arthur Gumbley after a court heard his DNA had been found on a cupboard drawer at the pensioner’s ransacked bungalow.
Jason Wilsher, 20, was found guilty by a jury at Stafford Crown Court today (21 March) of the murder which took place in Staffordshire, and a further charge of conspiracy to commit robbery, in November 2017.
The jury found Wilsher guilty after hearing that a DNA sample found on a drawer handle in the bedroom had a probability of 860 million to one that it was his (greater than the population of Europe).
Mr Gumbley died of his injuries following a violent burglary at his home in Endwood Drive, Little Aston, Staffordshire, on 21 November 2017, where offenders got away with gold and silver jewellery.
He was taken to hospital with serious injuries and, following a filmed appeal for information, sadly died three weeks later.
Mr Gumbley was able to tell detectives he had been watching television in the evening when he heard noises and went into the hallway where he was confronted by two men.
He was punched to the face and fell to the floor. He was then kicked to the shoulder but could not remember anything else.
It is believed he was dragged across the carpet as he had burns to his back and had a watch forcibly pulled from his wrist, tearing his skin.
During the burglary, the offenders ransacked all rooms of the bungalow pulling out drawers and upturning beds. Mr Gumbley managed to plug in a phone line the offenders had pulled out and called his daughter who called police
Mr Gumbley gave an account in interview but sadly his condition deteriorated and he died on 12 December 2017.
The pathologist concluded that the cause of Mr Gumbley’s death was blunt force injuries compounding cardiomegaly and other cardiac issues, as a direct result of the attack.
Led by Detective Chief Inspector Dan Ison, detectives from Staffordshire Police’s Major and Organised Crime department began the job of tracking down those responsible and organised televised appeals, including a slot on BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow.
Following a four-month long study of CCTV detectives placed a blue Mazda RX8 in the area of the burglary and another offence in Derbyshire.
On 25 November 2017 three masked men knocked on the door of a farmhouse north of Mansfield. The occupant, Dennis Taylor, was confronted by the men who forced their way inside and assaulted him, knocking him down and punching him while demanding to know where he kept money.
Mr Taylor’s head was repeatedly struck on a hearth and he was hit with a baseball bat, and a knife pushed through his lip, before the men ransacked his house and demanded the code for his safe. They made off with jewellery and £800 in cash.
The Mazda was caught on nearby CCTV speeding towards and away from, the farm.
It was found burnt out later that evening in a country lane. Detectives found out it had been sold privately in London and telephone numbers involved in the sale led to Wilsher’s family members.
An alias of ‘John Smiff’ had been given but Wilsher’s address of Barlestone Road, Bagworth, Leicestershire was written on the V62 document.
Extensive forensic work which took four weeks was carried out at Mr Gumbley’s bungalow on 188 exhibits and a DNA profile comprising three people was lifted from a drawer handle in his bedroom.
Jason Wilsher’s DNA was one of the profiles and experts concluded that the chances it was not his were 860 million to one.
DCI Ison said: “I am pleased that the jury has returned this verdict, but our first thoughts are with Arthur and his family.
“This was a planned and totally unnecessary attack on an 87-year-old man in his own home. The injuries sustained by Arthur were brutal and horrific. Arthur had his eye blacked and his arms were covered in bruising. He also suffered a number of fractured ribs likely to have been caused from a fall or a blow.”
DCI Ison described the investigation as complex and far-reaching.
“It’s the result of good old-fashioned policing. Detectives worked meticulously and doggedly to trace the car and then work through thousands of hours of CCTV and phone records and questioning to be able to arrive at Wilsher as a suspect.
“It was months of hard work that identified him and it is startling that the science of DNA proves effectively Wilsher is the only man in Europe who could’ve contributed to the sample found at Arthurs home.”
DCI Ison added: “The investigation into the outstanding individuals responsible for Arthur’s death continues.”
Wilsher will be sentenced at Stafford Crown Court tomorrow (22 March).
Judge Michael Chambers announced in court on 11 March that he had given Dennis Taylor the High Sherriff’s award for his bravery in fighting back against his attackers and attending court to give evidence in the case..