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Homeless man admits murdering Good Samaritan mother and son after she took him into their home

Posted: October 3, 2017 at 5:15 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

A homeless man who attacked and killed a Good Samaritan and her son, after she helped him get on his feet, has admitted murder.

Aaron Barley, 23, stabbed to death mother of two, Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and her 13-year-old son, Pierce, and left her husband, Peter, critically injured.

Barley, of no fixed abode, had been offered sanctuary by Mrs Wilkinson after she found him shivering and begging outside her local supermarket in March 2016.

Over the following months she helped him get a place in a hostel and fed him regularly at the family home in Stourbridge.


Tracey Wilkinson was described as a Good Samaritan with a heart of gold


Her husband gave him a job at his manufacturing firm and the family invited him to enjoy Christmas lunch with them last year.

But in March, Barley, who had began taking drugs, turned up at their home unexpectedly and stabbed Mrs Wilkinson and her son to death.

Her husband, who had been out walking the dog was stabbed six times in the face, neck, abdomen and back.

The family’s older daughter, who was studying biology at Bristol University discovered the horror after hearing of an attack in her home town and putting ‘Stourbridge Stabbings’ into the Google search engine and seeing pictures of her house.

Barley, who was flanked by four security guards, stood emotionless with shoulders slumped as he admitted two counts of murder.

He had already pleaded guilty to attempting to murder Mr Wilkinson.

Barley was described in court as a “compulsive liar” and a “Jekyll and Hyde” character with an obsession with knives and a long history of violence.

It was said he had previously boasted he would one day become a murderer and dreamed of spending the rest of his life behind bars as a notorious criminal.

In February – one month before the stabbings – he said on Facebook he was plotting to “take down his family” and wondered “how many he could get before he got caught.”


Aaron Barley has pleaded guilty to double murder and attempted murder


Mr Wilkinson said: “There’s no motive, there is no explanation…I wish my wife had never set eyes on him.”

Mrs Wilkinson was described by her husband as a “compassionate woman” who did voluntary work with old people.

She had first met Barley when she found him trying to keep warm in a cardboard box outside a branch of Tesco in Stourbridge.

She then took him to Dudley Council offices in her car and helped him get a place in a homeless hostel.

He said: “Things developed from there. Even though he was in a hostel, he had no money and food, so Tracey would organise breakfast and dinner for him every day, be it at our house or somewhere else.”

Mr Wilkinson said Barley, who had lost both his parents at a young age, and was brought up in foster homes, had told him: “I just need somebody to give me a chance, I need somebody to give me a lucky break.”

Three weeks later the company director offered him a job at a branch of his manufacturing firm in Newport, south Wales.

Unfortunately Barley went off the rails and began taking drugs and in September last year he lost his job, but remained on good terms with the family.

In October last year Mr Wilkinson found him asleep on their drive way and the family decided to try to help him again.

He said: “In a similar vein to what we had done last time, we managed to get accommodation for him. We paid for some accommodation ourselves for him.

“My wife wouldn’t see him back on the streets so over the next couple of weeks we managed to get council accommodation sorted.

“And he would do general jobs for us, for other members of my family as well, in order to earn some pocket money for food and cigarettes. And he was generally very grateful.”

Last Christmas Day the Wilkinson family invited him to stay with them and afterwards wote a letter to Mrs Wilkinson addressed ‘To the mother that I never had’.”

Mr Wilkinson said early in March this year he invited Barley to their home and they shared a curry and beer.

He went on: “I dropped him off back at his flat in Brierley Hill that night. And that was it for about three weeks – the next time I saw him he was sticking a knife into my shoulder.”

CCTV footage taken from the Wilkinsons’ home was played in court showing Barley lying in wait in the family garden for several hours before striking.

Prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said Barley entered the Wilkinson home through an unlocked kitchen door after Peter had gone out to walk the dog at around 7.30am.

Mr Khalil said Mr Wilkinson had returned from his dog walk 25 minutes later and had immediately realised something was not right.

Mr Khalil said: “He was immediately met by the attacking figure of Aaron Barley who the victim described as looking ‘like a ninja’.

“He immediately realised who his attacker was, slashing and hacking at Peter in a frenzied attack which was intended to kill him.”

Describing the attack, Mr Wilkinson explained: “He said, ‘Die, you bastard’ as he stuck the knife into me. I said to him after he’d stabbed me, ‘Aaron we tried to help you’, and he stuck the knife into my stomach and said ‘Die, you bastard’.”


Peter Wilkinson (R) and his two children, Lydia, who was away at university and Pierce, who died in the tragedy


Mr Wilkinson was stabbed repeatedly in the attack and left for dead, while Barley stole the family car.

He crashed it a short distance away and was arrested by police.

The businessman almost died in the ambulance and on the operating table but was saved despite his injuries.

Meanwhile his daughter Lydia, who was at university in Bristol, described desperately looking for information online after failing to get through to her family.

She said: “I remember typing into Google ‘Stourbridge, stabbings’ – this was around 10.30am so my mum and brother had already died by this point.

“And the first link showed a photo of my house with police tape around it. I remember ringing him back and saying ‘It’s me, it’s us, they’ve been stabbed’.”

She was taken to the hospital where she was told her mother and brother had died and that her father was in a critical condition.

She said: “I knew there was nothing I could do to help my mum and Pierce as they had tragically passed away so my sole focus at that moment in time was my dad, because he was the only thing I had left in life.

“And if I didn’t have him then I was going to be completely on my own and there was nothing I could do about it.”

She went on: “I was planning a triple funeral and how I was going to go about that on my own. And from that moment on we he started to come round, I did start to hope that he was going to be ok.”

Detective Superintendent Tom Chisholm, of West Midlands Police, said Aaron Barley was believed to have taken the murder weapon to the Wilkinsons’ home and let himself in.

Lydia Wilkinson described how she discovered details of the murder online


The officer said Barley – who was known to police and social services – refused to be interviewed or to give samples for forensic analysis.

“This was a truly shocking incident,” Mr Chisholm said.

“Clearly we deal with murder – it’s our job, we deal with it on a daily basis.

“It is incredibly rare that we deal with such an incident that has such a massive impact both on the victims’ family and the wider community, and indeed officers that investigated it.

“Our thoughts are with the Wilkinson family and they will remain with them for many years to come.”

During police interviews, Barley, refused to say why he had attacked the family.

Psychological reports showed Barley had a borderline personality disorder but found no signs of psychosis and stated he was in his right mind at the time of the murders.

As details of his 21 prior convictions were read out to the court – including assault and arson – Barley became emotional and shouted: “I’ve done what I’ve done, there’s no need to stand here and lie.”

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