A violent and “truly wicked” criminal has been jailed for a minimum of 33 years after murdering an 87-year-old man in a burglary that left him with a skinned hand and broken ribs.
Arthur Gumbley was “beaten black and blue” by Jason Wilsher after approaching his killer in a friendly way and asking him why he was inside his home.
The pensioner, who walked with the aid of a stick, was punched in the face and kicked on the floor at his bungalow in Little Aston, Sutton Coldfield, in November 2017 – in an act describe by a judge as “callous, cowardly and ruthless”.
At Stafford Crown Court, the 20-year-old Wilsher’s criminal history was detailed by the judge – listing offences including a similar attack on an 86-year-old man in his own home.
Wilsher, of Barlestone Road, Bagworth, Leicestershire, had recently avoided prison before murdering Mr Gumbley, after being handed a suspended sentence for kicking and stamping on a prison guard in a “serious and sustained” attack.
He also had previous convictions for battery, affray and burglary which were committed all across the Midlands.
Jurors unanimously decided Wilsher had ransacked Mr Gumbley’s bungalow after they heard DNA found on a cupboard drawer at the property was an 860 million-to-one match.
The pensioner died about three weeks after the break-in as a result of his injuries, which included four rib fractures.
On Thursday, a jury panel at Stafford Crown Court convicted the traveller of murder and conspiracy to rob.
Wearing a white shirt in the dock, Wilsher showed no emotion and looked straight ahead as he was handed his mandatory life sentence.
On Friday, Judge Michael Chambers QC told the defendant: “It was senseless.
“He was a vulnerable, elderly man. There was no need to commit this act. It was pointless.
“To be attacked in one’s own home is everyone’s worst nightmare. To target elderly victims in their own homes is truly wicked.”
The judge continued: “This was a well-prepared and professional crime.
“I am quite satisfied that it was part of the intention to use serious violence in order to achieve your aims.
“This was, in any view, a cowardly and callous act.”
In victim impact statements read out by prosecutor Jacob Hallam QC, Mr Gumbley’s children described the attack as a “night we will never forget”.
Mr Gumbley’s son, Michael, said: “There’s not a day goes by where I don’t think about how my dad died.
“I don’t understand why another human being would want to kick or punch an elderly pensioner.
“To lose someone you love in the way we have is devastating.”
Mr Gumbley’s daughter Sandra Bromley also expressed her sadness at her father’s death, saying: “He was a brave man. We love him and we miss him daily.
“Every night I go to ring him but the only way I can hear his voice now is on a tape from his hospital bed.”
Another daughter of Mr Gumbley, Susan Boyes, said the attack had made her an “emotional wreck” and it makes her “cry every night”.
The conspiracy to rob charge was related to another elderly man, Dennis Taylor, who lived in the Creswell area of Derbyshire and suffered injuries at the hands of burglars.
The 82-year-old told police he had his head banged on to the hearth of a fireplace four days after Mr Gumbley was attacked.