Sunday 22 October 2017

Homeless man admits murdering mum and son (13) after they gave him food and shelter

Undated handout picture issued by West Midlands Police of homeless Aaron Barley, 24, who has pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to the murders of Tracey Wilkinson and her 13-year-old son Pierce at their home in Stourbridge after her family gave him help. Photo: West Midlands Police/PA Wire
Undated handout picture issued by West Midlands Police of homeless Aaron Barley, 24, who has pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to the murders of Tracey Wilkinson and her 13-year-old son Pierce at their home in Stourbridge after her family gave him help. Photo: West Midlands Police/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A homeless drug user who turned on a family that helped him has admitted murdering the mother and her 13-year-old son in a frenzied knife attack.

Aaron Barley dressed himself in black and put on a balaclava before stabbing Tracey Wilkinson 17 times and inflicting eight knife wounds on her son Pierce at their home in Stourbridge, West Midlands.

Birmingham Crown Court was told Barley - who was given food, friendship and shelter by Mrs Wilkinson - waited through the night until her husband Peter left the house to walk his dog before entering the unlocked property.

Opening the facts of the killings, prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said Barley killed Mrs Wilkinson in her bed and her son in his room - and then attacked her husband as he returned home, shouting, "Die you bastard" as he stabbed the 47-year-old.

Undated handout picture issued by West Midlands Police of Pierce Wilkinson Photo: West Midlands Police/PA Wire
Undated handout picture issued by West Midlands Police of Pierce Wilkinson Photo: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

Barley - who had covered his yellow trainers in black socks - knifed Mr Wilkinson six times on his lawn before fleeing in his victim's Land Rover.

Mr Khalil told the court Barley, 24, was a "compulsive liar and manipulator" who was also given a job, accommodation and a mobile phone by the Wilkinsons after Mrs Wilkinson met him outside a supermarket and took him home.

Undated handout picture issued by West Midlands Police of Tracey Wilkinson Photo: West Midlands Police/PA Wire
Undated handout picture issued by West Midlands Police of Tracey Wilkinson Photo: West Midlands Police/PA Wire

Describing the initial contact between Barley and Mrs Wilkinson, Mr Khalil told the court: "Upon Peter's return from work, Aaron Barley was in the family kitchen eating Peter's dinner, which had been given to him by Tracey.

"Barley presented as scruffy and smelly. Tracey said that she had found him sleeping rough outside Tesco.

"Thereafter the defendant went to a hostel whilst accommodation was arranged through the council. He was fed every evening in the Wilkinsons' home."

Barley, whose parents died when he was a child, was brought up by a foster carer, who had reported concerns about his behaviour to the police before the killings.

Mr Khalil said Barley had attended an alcohol and drug rehabilitation centre, where 50-year-old Mrs Wilkinson helped out after suffering personal problems in 2015.

Although Barley told volunteers at the centre he wanted to kill someone with a knife - with his "two aims in life" being to kill a policeman and a prison officer - his remarks were dismissed as bravado caused by drug abuse.

The court also heard how Barley was given a job by Mr Wilkinson, working as a labourer in Newport, south Wales, for one of his businesses.

But Barley left the job without notice after falsely claiming his mother had died.

As Mr Wilkinson and other family members sat in the front row of the public gallery, around 15 feet from Barley, Mr Khalil told court: "Peter Wilkinson was naturally intent on trying to continue to support the defendant, as he believed he was grieving and a period of leave was arranged.

"Members of Peter's company spent a huge amount of time and effort trying to find ways to support the defendant."

In October last year, Mr Wilkinson returned home from work to find Barley sleeping on his driveway, after which the family allowed him to stay with them for two weeks before the council found alternative accommodation.

Barley, who visited the family on Christmas Day and was given lunch, was reported to police after his former foster carer became concerned about messages posted on Facebook.

Among the posts was a threat made by Barley against "my family that have not spoken to me in years" and messages raising his unstable state and the possibility of a a "killing spree".

Less than a week before the stabbings, the court heard, the Wilkinsons cancelled a mobile phone contract they had paid for Barley.

It also emerged in court that Mrs Wilkinson had told a friend she had seen Barley looking over a fence at her home and she wanted nothing more to do with him.

At the time of the stabbings on Thursday March 30, the Wilkinsons' 19-year-old daughter Lydia was studying at Bristol University, having spoken to her mother on the telephone the previous day.

Security camera footage was played to the court, showing Barley attacking Mr Wilkinson after hiding in the garden and removing a hammer from a shed.

Barley - who attacked Mrs Wilkinson and her son during the 20 minutes that Mr Wilkinson was walking his greyhound - sat with his head bowed in the dock throughout the CCTV recordings.

At one point during the hearing, Barley was seen to rock back and forth in his seat, as details of his 21 previous convictions for offences including an assault on his former partner were read out.

Mr Khalil told the court: "Just before 8am, Peter returned home. He went to open the back door to the kitchen and was met by the attacking figure of Aaron Barley.

"The defendant was dressed all in black, including gloves and a balaclava. Peter describes the defendant as acting like a ninja. He realised immediately who his attacker was.

"The defendant was wielding a knife, stabbing and slashing at Peter in a frenzied attack with such aggression that this alone demonstrated an obvious intention to kill him."

Barley then drove off, leaving a light-coloured jacket he had discarded before the attack at the scene.

"Peter picked up the home phone and went outside again, where he semi-collapsed," Mr Khalil added.

"He told the emergency services that his family had been killed, said that he was dying and that the perpetrator was Aaron Barley."

Barley, who had previously admitted the attempted murder of Mr Wilkinson, will be sentenced on Wednesday.

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