Sunderland man faces life sentence after murdering his brother during row over family dog

A council worker who murdered his brother during a row over the family dog is facing life behind bars.

Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 3:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 3:23 pm

Samuel Campbell, 24, died from a single knife wound to the chest during a "scuffle" with his sibling William in June.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the brothers, who were like "chalk and cheese" had been in the garden of their mother's home in Sunderland, where Samuel had been drinking Bourbon and listening to music by the fire pit with the dog Marley.

Campbell, who "disapproved" of bar worker Samuel's lack of full-time employment and his reliance on their mother to walk the dog, had just returned from a night with a friend.

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William Campbell.

The fatal argument started after Campbell claimed his brother had been "raising his voice to the dog".

Their mother Carolyn Campbell had heard "raised voices" from inside the house, in Silksworth, Sunderland, and gone downstairs to tell them to be quiet so asnot to disturb the neighbours.

But the court heard the trouble continued and Campbell, now 26, picked up a knife from the kitchen and stabbed his younger brother in the chest in the garden.

Campbell, of Allen Court, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, denied murder but has been found guilty by a jury after a trial.

Samuel Campbell.

He will be sentenced in January next year but Judge Paul Sloan QC warned him: "There is only one sentence in respect of the offence of murder and that is asentence of life imprisonment."

The judge added: "However, I am obliged to identify the minimum term you must serve before you could be considered for release by the parole board and that I will do having considered submissions and having considered other material placed before me in advance of the sentence hearing."

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC had told the court Carolyn Campbell had been woken up by the sound of her sons' voices in the house before the fatal attack.

He said: "She got up and went downstairs and told them to be quiet because they would disturb the neighbours.

"There was a bit of a scuffle which the mother broke up.

"Samuel said something, according to his mother and went back outside with the dog.

"The defendant sat down on the sofa and said he had just told his brother not to talk to the dog in the way he was doing.

"Then, his mother noted the defendant got a bit frustrated and said 'I'm not having this'. He said 'I'm getting a knife'.

"He went into the kitchen.

"Mrs Campbell didn't follow him in there but did go out into the garden and recalls trying to get between the sons.

"There was, as she subsequently described, a bit of a scuffle.

"Samuel then took off the hoodie he was wearing and saw blood on his chest.

"At some stage their mother recalls Samuel egging his brother on and saying 'you've stabbed me' then Samuel collapsed."

Campbell told a police officer at the scene "I stabbed him out of rage" and later claimed "I deserve to die".

He told jurors from the witness box during the trial he was "absolutely devastated" by what happened.

He said he had told their mum "it started because he was raising his voice to the dog."

But he added: "At one stage I go 'I'm not having this'.

"It was just the way he was talking to the dog, the way he was being, I only wanted the situation to simmer down and diffuse.

"My only intention was to go out and apologise to our Sam and I wanted him to apologise to the dog and myself also."

Campbell said when he got outside the apologies were exchanged but trouble flared again and the fatal wound was inflicted when Samuel "must havelunged and tripped" during the confrontation, which jurors rejected.

The court heard Samuel still lived at the family home with their mother, whereas his older brother had moved out and lived in North Yorkshire for work but was visiting for a few days.

After the verdict, Detective Chief Inspector Jane Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, said: “This is a terribly sad case that has seen a family torn apart in the most devastating of circumstances.

“William made the decision to pick up a knife after an argument with his brother, and by doing so, he has ruined more than one life forever.

“There is never an acceptable excuse to pick up a knife as a weapon and this tragic case has no winners. Our thoughts remain with Samuel’s family at thismost poignant of times.

“I would like to thank them for their support and cooperation throughout this investigation, as well as the team of officers who worked tirelessly to ensureWilliam was rightly brought to justice.

“I sincerely hope this acts as a reminder to everyone about the potential dangers of carrying a knife – and the severe consequences that can follow.”