The nephew of an elderly couple found dead at a Staffordshire scrapyard was yesterday told he will serve a minimum term of 25 years for their murders.

Richard Barlow had previously pleaded guilty to the murders of 79-year-old George Barlow and his wife Joyce, 65.

Yesterday at Stafford Crown Court, Barlow, 29, did not react as he learned his sentence.

Judge Simon Tonking told Barlow, of Heath Road, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire: "I have been dealing with a very tragic case in which two much-loved and well-respected people lost their lives wholly unnecessarily, in truly terrible circumstances."

Mr and Mrs Barlow, who lived in a bungalow on the scrapyard site in Uttoxeter, were found dead on October 26 last year. The court heard yesterday afternoon that Barlow bludgeoned and stabbed his elderly relatives to death in a confrontation that was the "culmination of a long-running family argument".

The feud between two sides of the family had originally arisen from a dispute over the proceeds of land which had been sold.

Christopher Hotten QC, prosecuting, said that despite the feud, the two parts of the family were in almost daily contact because Richard Barlow kept cows and geese in a field which he accessed through his relatives' scrapyard.

On the day of the murders, Richard Barlow had followed his uncle George Barlow, known as Bill to his family, into the scrapyard.

There was a brief exchange of words before the defendant launched into what the judge called a "most brutal attack", part of which was captured on CCTV.

Barlow stabbed his uncle with an electrical tester "a number of times", before his aunt intervened and he turned his attention to her, also stabbing her with the tester.

Picking up a metal bar, the defendant then used it to strike his uncle repeatedly to the head.

The judge told Barlow: "The injuries which you inflicted were bound to be fatal."

After the attack, the defendant fed his animals, called members of his family to tell them what he had done, then called 999.

He then waited for police to come to the scrapyard, where they arrested him.

Christopher Hotten QC said: "It would appear that, having in effect killed them then and there, he went into the field and he tended to his geese, shutting them up for the night.

"He then telephoned his mother, telling her what he had done."

Then, on the phone to a 999 operator, Barlow told her: "I have just killed my aunt and uncle."

The defendant said he had "smashed their heads in with a drive shaft" and that he had "snapped", the prosecution said.

Barlow also related the history of the feud, telling the operator that when the couple placed a padlock on the gate to the yard - which, as he had no key, obstructed his access to the field - it had been "the final straw".

"Outwardly calm and compliant" when officers arrived, in police interviews Barlow said he was still angry as he spoke of what had happened.

He told police: "I lost my temper and went out and started stabbing him (his uncle)." Of Joyce Barlow, he said: "I was that raged up, she's part of the problem. I just did it out of sheer rage, you know."

He said he had kicked her face "like a football", the prosecution went on.

In a letter to the judge, the defendant said: "I am very sorry for what I have done and I have ruined a lot of lives."

The judge told Barlow: "There can be no doubt that you were under strain when you acted as you did."

But he said that by the end of the attack, Barlow "must have intended to kill".

Joyce Barlow's daughter Susan was one of the first at the scene of the murders and, in a statement read to the court, said she would never forget that "horrific night".

She said: "I will never lose the picture of them lying there on the drive."

Following the sentence, the families of the murdered couple said in a joint statement: "We are still in a state of shock at the way Bill and Joyce were suddenly, and savagely, taken from us."

The family feud arose between Richard Barlow and his mother Christine, and Bill and Joyce Barlow, over the sale of land.

It was exacerbated when Richard Barlow's cousin was killed in an accident in 2003.