Pensioner who 'executed' dead father and son over grandson's custody battle jailed for life

23 October 2023, 11:59

Stephen Alderton has been jailed for life
Stephen Alderton has been jailed for life. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary/Alamy

By Kit Heren

A pensioner who murdered a father and son at separate addresses in two villages in Cambridgeshire has been jailed for life.

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Stephen Alderton, of no fixed abode, admitted killing father-and-son builders Gary and Joshua Dunmore, aged 57 and 32, in Bluntisham and Sutton on March 29 this year.

Alderton, 67, shot Joshua Dunmore, 32, twice in the hallway of his home in Bluntisham at 9.09pm.

He then shot Gary Dunmore, 57, three times in the hallway of his home in Sutton 31 minutes later.

Stephen Alderton
Stephen Alderton. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary

Alderton fled but was stopped by officers on the M5 near Worcester the next day. He told them: "Sometimes you have to do what you have to do even if it's wrong in the eyes of the law."

After the killer was sentenced on Monday, with a minimum of 25 years behind bars, a family member of the two men he shot swore and shouted "rot in prison" as he was led down to the cells.

Josh Dunmore
Josh Dunmore. Picture: Social media

The Dunmores were killed amid a custody battle. Josh had recently had a favourable decision in his efforts to block his former partner from taking his son to the US.

The judge said that Alderton "executed" them, adding: "You took the decision to take the law into your own hands and end the lives of two innocent men."

Alderton killed them because of his "distorted beliefs" about the custody proceedings regarding his grandson "following what was an interim and not final hearing on March 27".

Alderton previously sent messages saying that he would "override any court decision" and that he had "a plan B", the court heard earlier.

Gary Dunmore
Gary Dunmore. Picture: Alamy

The killer also claimed that he had "a shortlist of people he intended to murder".

Prosecutors "rapidly identified" Alderton as a suspect because of the family court motive, as well as sightings of his campervan, where he was living.

Armed police from the West Mercia force stopped him on the M5 near Worcester at about 1.30am on March 30.

His defence lawyer said Alderton wrote in a letter: "I'm not the person that this conflict and the family courts have driven me to become.

"I've never been a violent person, I do not have a criminal record. I've been a respectable, law-abiding citizen all my life. What happened to me on March 29 I do not know."

Alderton's gun
Alderton's gun. Picture: Cambridgeshire Constabulary
Tribute left to Josh Dunmore at the scene
Tribute left to Josh Dunmore at the scene. Picture: Alamy

Dunmore was "buzzing" to have been given the good news at the court hearing and spend time with his son over the Easter holidays, friends said.

In a heartfelt tribute left at the police cordon after their killings, one of Josh's friends wrote: "To Josh. I cannot believe I am writing this. This week was meant to be a celebration for you and your precious boy."

"I pray that you can rest in peace knowing you fought every day for [the boy]. Everything you done was for him and he will forever know this."

Police after the shootings.
Police after the shootings. Picture: Alamy

Their family also paid tribute to the "devoted" and "loving" pair.

They said in a statement that Josh "was a wonderful son and brother and leaves behind an extensive group of family and friends. He will be deeply missed and the devastation this has caused will never heal."

They added: "Gary was the most devoted son, brother, dad, and grandad, who gave everything for those he loved.

"He was a gentle and generous person who always put others before himself, and he'll be massively missed by his family and all those who knew and loved him."

A floral tribute to Gary Dunmore, left outside his home in The Row, Sutton, said: "To my dear neighbour Gary.

"A man who loved his family dearly, a dear friend to all, so helpful and kind and was always around as a friend and my little odd job man.

"I'm going to miss you."

A further tribute said: "RIP Gary. Absolutely gutted."

Flowers left at the scene at The Row in Sutton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire
Flowers left at the scene at The Row in Sutton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Three arrested after two men shot dead in 'targeted attacks' in quiet Cambridgeshire villages

A floral tribute left to Josh in Bluntisham said: "So sad a young life to be taken like this and a little boy now with no daddy.

"Thinking of the family. RIP Josh X."

Another tribute said: "We have no words for such tragedy in our quiet village.

"Our prayers are with all involved. Rest in eternal peace."

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