Blyth family torn apart as man faces life for murdering brother

James Rutherford pleaded guilty to murdering his brother in Blyth in the early hours of August 2

A Blyth family has been torn apart by tragedy as a man faces life behind bars for murdering his brother.

James Rutherford, 35, pleaded guilty to killing his older brother when in Newcastle Crown Court on Wednesday, November 16 after an incident in the Duke's Gardens area of the town on August 2.

Emergency services attended the scene in the early hours of the morning and found 46-year-old Gary Wilkie with a serious stab wound to his leg. He was treated by paramedics but sadly died a short time later.

Rutherford, of no fixed abode, was arrested at the scene and charged with murder and possession of an article with a blade or point in a public place. The killer will appear in court for sentencing on January 12, 2023 and was told by Judge Paul Sloan KC that he faces a mandatory life term.

Detective Inspector David Johnson, of Northumbria Police, said: “The last three months have been incredibly difficult for Gary’s family and our thoughts remain with them at this devastating time. We will continue to offer them any support they need. It was imperative that effective justice was served and, with the weight of evidence against Rutherford overwhelming, I am pleased he spared his family the anguish of having to prolong these proceedings further by taking this to trial.

“This is another tragic case that once again highlights the irreversible and devastating consequences of carrying a knife and I hope it sends out a strong message to the community. I would like to thank the victim’s family and the wider community for their support and cooperation throughout this investigation, as well as a team of detectives who worked diligently to pull together a strong prosecution case.”

Rutherford’s plea coincides with a national week of action – known as Operation Sceptre – which Northumbria Police are supporting to reiterate the dangers and consequences of carrying a knife. As part of the awareness week, which runs until November 20, officers are working with partners to carry out a range of activities from knife searches to targeting suspects and delivering educational inputs in schools and universities.

James Rutherford pleaded guilty to the murder (Image: Northumbria Police)

Surrender bins are now in place at the following stations until November 20. They can be accessed during opening hours which can be viewed on the police website:

  • Forth Banks
  • Middle Engine Lane
  • Southwick
  • Bedlington
  • Millbank
  • Gateshead
  • Hexham

If you have information about someone who is in possession of a prohibited weapon or want to report any suspicious activity, please get in touch with Northumbria Police using the Tell Us Something page on their website. Alternatively, you can speak to Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.