Dying dad’s last words led police to killer

Det Supt Paul Withers.
Det Supt Paul Withers.

A loving dad’s dying words helped police catch his killer.

As he lay bloodied from ultimately fatal knife wounds, bus driver Adam Stirrup told officers he had been stabbed by Gareth Mason, his new partner’s ex-lover.

After Mason, of Westminster Road, Morecambe, was jailed for life for murder, a police chief said: “Thirty minutes of absolute madness cost a decent young man his life.”

Mason stabbed Lancaster Stagecoach driver Adam, 28, and his 28-year-old girlfriend, former Morecambe High School student Katrina Rudrum, in a jealous rage after tracking them down to Stud Farm Holiday Park in Heysham. He was sentenced at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday afternoon.

Detective Superintendent Paul Withers, who led the investigation for Lancashire Police, told The Visitor of the “distressing scene” as officers arrived.

He said: “Katrina was found suffering from significant stab injuries in a caravan. Adam was lying outside another one. There was no trace of Gareth Mason.

“We got information from both Katrina and Adam that he was the person we needed to locate.

“Adam remained conscious for some time in the ambulance but once en route to Royal Preston Hospital his condition deteriorated.”

Adam, who worked for Stagecoach, later died of his injuries.

DS Withers praised former soldier Robert Hill, who lives on the holiday park and helped give first aid to Katrina, who had suffered horrific wounds to her neck, abdomen and back.

The day after the attack, Mr Hill’s caravan remained covered in blood due to the severity of her multiple wounds.

Katrina was also rushed to Royal Preston and later transferred to Royal Blackburn Hospital.

DS Withers said: “I am confident that he and the police officers who arrived contributed to saving her life. “She was there (hospital) for a significant number of days before she was released.

“Physically she is doing OK but the trauma she has suffered will be with her for a long time.”

Mason, 26, had left his and Miss Rudrum’s three-year-old son at home alone to carry out the attacks in the early hours of August 4.

Police quickly tracked down and arrested Mason, who had fled to his mother’s house in Staffordshire.

Ds Wither added: “He denied any involvement for a brief period.

“Thankfully he realised the error of his ways.

“Under interview he was quite calm, a bit tearful and upset. You never know if that’s because he realises he’s going to prison for a long time or if he feels genuine remorse.

“I have no idea why he left it until the trial to plead guilty.

“If I’m brutally honest my thoughts are not with Gareth Mason. He’ll have 24 years to think about what he did. My thoughts are with Katrina who is having a very, very difficult time coming to terms with what has happened and also with Adam Stirrup’s family.

“Adam’s 13-year-old daughter was also in the caravan that night, which is even more alarming.

“It’s not anything anyone should have to experience, let alone a young child. But children are very resilient. She is doing very well considering.

“Adam’s family are a delightful and close family. Whether they will ever get over this, I’m not sure.

“I can’t imagine what they are going through.”

Mason, who pleaded guilty to murder and wounding with intent on the first day of a scheduled trial, was told he must serve at least 24 years in prison.