Trio guilty of killing fisherman on the River Thames
Two brothers and their cousin who savagely attacked a man fishing on an island in the Thames have been convicted of killing him.
Shane and Lenny Crawt, now aged 19 and 18, were both found guilty of murder at Guildford Crown Court today (Friday 8 March), while Charlie Smith, 24, was found not guilty of murder, but was convicted of manslaughter.
The trio set upon Scott Wilkinson, 48, who died of severe blunt impact injuries to the head. He also suffered fractured ribs, and lacerations and bruises to his head, trunk and arms.
The attack took place at 'Donkey Island' in Walton-on-Thames in Surrey, where Mr Wilkinson would regularly go to fish.
Shortly after the attack, the young men, on leaving the area, boasted to a group of boys in a nearby park about what they had done, telling one witness: “I wouldn’t say anything if I were you because we killed someone tonight”.
Mr Wilkinson’s body was discovered on 28 July 2016 floating in the water, close to where he had been camping. His tent and his other belongings were found covered in his blood.
Helen Ellwood, from the CPS, said: “This was a savage attack on a man who just wanted to enjoy peace and quiet and his passion for fishing.
“The defendants sought to blame each other for the killing, but we were able to provide a compelling case to the jury that each one of them had knowingly played a part in the attack, regardless of who was responsible for landing the fatal blow.”
Building the case
Mr Wilkinson had had a cardiac implantable loop recorder inserted in 2013 in order to monitor his heart rate. It was established that this implant recorded an accelerated heart rate at 11:18pm on 27 July, potentially consistent with an adrenaline drive caused by the attack on him. By 2:31am the next day, the readings provided by the device were inconsistent with life. The medical evidence, taken together, indicated that Mr Wilkinson had remained alive for several hours after the attack.
Painstaking scrutiny of the CCTV evidence from the route to and from the island helped to show that the three defendants were the only people present with Mr Wilkinson on the island at the time he must have been attacked.
The CPS presented accounts of how the defendants had told several different people they had committed the murder - including one witness who recorded Smith on his mobile phone talking about the Crawt brothers “laying into” Mr Wilkinson.
DNA and fingerprint evidence, and the account provided by Mr Wilkinson’s partner who saw the three defendants when she came to bring her partner food on the evening before the attack, provided additional important evidence.
Ms Ellwood added: “It is highly unusual for a murder case to consist of so much evidence of what the defendants told other people about the events of that night. By speaking to others about what had happened, the defendants inadvertently helped to build a stronger prosecution case against them, which eventually led to each of them admitting they were on the island when Scott was attacked.”
Notes to editors
- Helen Ellwood is a Senior Crown Prosecutor with CPS South East Complex Casework Unit
- Shane Crawt [DOB: 22/05/1999] and his brother Lenny Crawt [DOB: 04/06/2000] were both convicted of murder, while Charlie Smith [DOB: 13/12/1994] was found not guilty of murder, but convicted of manslaughter.