Three members of the same family have been found guilty in connection with the murder of a man in Sunbury after a two and a half year investigation.
Shane Crawt, 19, of Old Lodge Lane, Purley, Lenny Crawt, 18, of Down Street, West Molesey, and Charlie Smith, 24, of no fixed abode, violently attacked 48-year-old Scott Wilkinson on an island near Sunbury Lock in July 2016.
Shane and Lenny Crawt were both found guilty of murder and Charlie Smith was found guilty of Manslaughter at Guildford Crown Court (8 March).
The jury heard how the Crawt brothers and their cousin Charlie Smith brutally attacked Scott before fleeing the island and destroying their clothing. They then boasted of “killing someone” to people they knew.
Scott’s body was found in the water the following day, four days after he arrived on the island to pursue his love of fishing.
The trio were initially arrested within four days of the murder but were released under investigation while the lengthy and complex investigation continued. All three were later charged with murder on 18 July 2018 after being re-arrested.
The island where Scott was murdered
Scott was an avid fisherman and would often spend days at a time camping and fishing on the island, known locally as Donkey Island. He arrived for his final visit on 25 July but his normal spot had been taken by Shane Crawt, Lenny Crawt and Charlie Smith, who at the time were aged 17, 16, and 21 respectively. Scott therefore set up his camp a short distance away in another spot.
Scott’s partner and friends would visit him throughout the day to keep him company and bring him food and supplies. The night of the murder his partner had come to visit him, leaving the island just before 11pm. It was agreed when she left that Scott would call her to make sure that she had arrived home safely.
A short time after she had left the island Scott was violently attacked by the Crawts and Smith. Together they punched, kicked and hit Scott using a large piece of wood. They also used a knife to injure him. The attack was so violent that they caused catastrophic head injuries, leaving Scott for dead. The three believed they had killed Scott, however we know he lived for at least two hours before he died as a result of his injuries.
After his partner still hadn’t heard from him the next morning (28 July), we were informed that Scott was missing and a subsequent search took place. Scott’s body was recovered just after 4pm that day from reeds within the water, close to the location of the tent just feet away from where he had been attacked. It was clear that Scott had been the victim of a vicious and violent attack.
The Surrey and Sussex Major Crime Team immediately launched a murder investigation and began to identify possible suspects whilst considering a number of hypotheses.
There were numerous key elements to the investigation that built a strong picture of who was responsible for Scott’s murder. This included CCTV, forensics, circumstantial evidence, house to house enquiries and a great deal of work and patience in relation to potential witnesses.
All three were coming and going from the island while they were pitched there and the only way to reach the island by foot is via a bridge which is captured on CCTV. Detectives trawled through hundreds of hours of footage and concluded that Shane Crawt, Lenny Crawt and Charlie Smith would have been the only people on the island at the time of the attack.
The area where Scott's tent was pitched photographed the day after he was killed
We were also able to pinpoint a time of death as Scott had a device implanted that monitored irregular heartbeats due to a pre-existing condition. At 11.18pm that night it recorded a heart rate that was consistent with an adrenaline rush one might have expected to occur during an attack. The next recording was at midnight which was within the normal range, which proved that Scott was alive for some time after the attack. Another recording around 2.30am the next morning shows a rate not consistent with life.
At around the same time nearby residents described hearing noises that sounded like “complete chaos”. The trio were then seen leaving the island via the footbridge on CCTV shortly before 11.30pm. Due to the distance this must have been straight after the attack on Scott.
At the scene officers also found evidence of a serious assault, including a large amount of blood located at the location where Scott had been fishing. DNA from all three defendants was also found on various items such as drinks cans and a toothbrush where Scott had been camping and where the three had pitched their own tents.
During the trial, the jury heard how after the attack, Shane Crawt, Lenny Crawt and Charlie Smith had made various confessions to numerous people about their involvement in Scott’s murder.The first being on the night of the attack, the murderers went to Grovelands Park which is less than two miles away from where Scott was attacked, when they came across a group of boys they knew. One of the three said words to the effect of “I wouldn't say anything if I was you because we killed someone tonight.”
A few weeks later Charlie Smith said to another witness who was an old school friend that he was on the run “for murder”. Lenny Crawt even told his key worker that “we did do it” during a discussion about the murder. Shane Crawt also made confessions to family members and even to a stranger.
After a five week trial, the jury unanimously reached their verdicts after nearly two days of deliberation.
Detective Inspector Paddy Mayers, who led the investigation said: “This was a vicious and senseless attack on Scott Wilkinson who after the attack was left alone to die. His injuries were so serious that they were not survivable.
“Shane Crawt, Lenny Crawt and Charlie Smith thought they had got away with it and even boasted about what they had done. They then denied their involvement before blaming each other, putting Scott’s family through a distressing trial where they had to listen in graphic detail to what Scott had gone through.
“Their actions that night were vicious, brutal and callous and they are finally now where they deserve to be. They have never shown any remorse for what they have done.
“I would like to thank Scott’s family for their support and patience throughout this long and complex investigation. I sincerely hope that they feel that Scott has got justice as a result of today’s outcome, although I know that their lives will never be the same.
“I would like to thank the prosecution team Paul Cavin QC, Ryan Richter and Helen Ellwood of the CPS.
“I would also like to thank my team and all those that assisted in this complex and long investigation. The team worked tirelessly on this case for two and a half years and were committed to making sure that those responsible were brought to justice.
“As a result of their hard work we were able to piece together what happened to Scott on that night and identify those responsible. It was teamwork that led to this matter coming to court and those responsible being found guilty.
“Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Scott’s family, no family should ever have to go through what they have and I hope this result can begin to provide them with some closure for what happened knowing that those responsible are now behind bars where they belong.”
Tribute to Scott Wilkinson by David and Janet Wilkinson
Scott was a loving, affectionate and caring son, brother, father, grandfather, nephew and partner.
We have such fond memories of Scott which include him misbehaving with his brother Shaun when they were children much to the consternation of his mother Janet and humorous delight of his father David.
Scott liked to tinker around doing up cars but this interest did not match his ability, often leaving the vehicle worse off. On one occasion attaching an ill-fitting sunroof which gathered water and suitably soaked unsuspecting passengers during sharp left turns.
However Scott’s passion, as anyone who knew him would tell you, was fishing. Fishing was a family hobby which brought us all together. It created shared experiences during long summer holidays, adventurous trips to Ireland with long drawn out tales of the one that got away.
The energy and enthusiasm which Scott directed towards fishing was reflective of his character towards people. He offered friendship, kindness and closeness to those that wanted or needed it. He enriched the lives of the people who knew him.
Scott was not perfect. He had his faults as we all do but he belonged to us and he should not have been taken away.
It has been over two years since we had to say goodbye to Scott and whilst time has allowed us to grieve, the sense of injustice at the loss has remained with us.
The knowledge of the circumstances of Scott’s death are an unbearable burden which we will have to carry for the rest of our lives. Our memories of him however will outshine the horrendous events which took place on that small island in the Thames.
Whilst we are happy with the outcome in court, today is not the end of the grief we feel. It is a step. Another step forward without him.