Chilling CCTV shows homeless man hiding in garden of family who tried to help him before sneaking in to slaughter mum and son
Chilling footage captured killer Aaron Barley lurking in the garden of the family that took him in – hours before he carried out a vicious attack on the Good Samaritans.
He can be seen crawling around the lawn and hiding in bushes as he waited for six hours until the coast was clear and sneaked inside the £440,000 Stourbridge home.
The homeless man murdered a kind-hearted mum and her teenage son in a barrage of blades – after the family tried to help him turn his life around.
Aaron Barley, 24, today pleaded guilty to brutally stabbing Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and 13-year-old Pierce to death in March, after he was taken in to their £440,000 home.
The family turned their backs on Barley after he started using drugs again, and after a series of abusive phonecalls in March he arrived at the Wilkinson’s home to launch the chilling attack on mother and son.
In February – one month before the stabbings – he wrote on Facebook he was plotting to “take down his family” and wondered “how many he could get before he got caught”.
Barley, of no fixed address, appeared before High Court judge Mrs Justice Carr at Birmingham Crown Court today to admit the charges.
He wore a light blue t-shirt, dark blue jogging bottoms and was flanked by four security guards.
The young man, described as a “Jekyll and Hyde” character, appeared emotionless and stood with his shoulders slumped as he admitted the two counts of murder.
In the shocking attack schoolboy Pierce was stabbed with such force one of the blows “almost divided his spinal chord” and Tracey was struck with the blade up to 20 times.
As details of his 21 prior convictions were read out to the court – including assault and arson – Barley shouted: “I’ve done what I’ve done, there’s no need to stand here and lie.”
Giving a victim impact statement to the court, 19-year-old Lydia Wilkinson told Barley: “You have obliterated my life and murdered half my family. I will never forgive you.
“This is a pain I will feel until my heart stops beating.”
Barley appeared to weep as she gave her statement and mouthed the words: “I’m sorry.”
Mrs Wilkinson, a former British Latin American ballroom dancing champion, was pronounced dead at the scene, while her son died after being taken to hospital.
Her husband, Peter, was left fighting for his life and needing 97 stitches – he had returned home from walking their dog to find the horrifying scene and was confronted by Barley shouting “die you b*****d” as he was stabbed six times.
The 47-year-old said “Aaron, we tried to help you” before he was left gravely injured in the front garden with stab wounds to the face, abdomen and back.
The drug addict, who had been kicked out of children’s homes for violent behaviour, then fled in the family’s Land Rover before smashing into a wall 500 yards away.
Mr Wilkinson was in intensive care for six days after undergoing life saving surgery and didn’t know his son had died until he came round from surgery.
Before the hearing he said: “Tracey loved to help people – she always said she wanted to give something back.
‘Die you b*****d’ Dad tells of horrific moment Aaron Barley ambushed him in the kitchen
Peter Wilkinson clearly remembers coming home after taking the dog for a walk and being attacked by Aaron Barley.
He has spoken of the moment he came through the back door and thought everyone had overslept.
He said: “I opened the back door and, as I did it, he jumped out from behind a wall in the kitchen, all dressed in black, with a big knife held over his head and started stabbing me with it.
“From that point I grappled with him for a short period of time and he stabbed me six times – he stabbed me twice in the face, twice in the abdomen and twice in the back.”
When asked if Barley said anything during the attack, Mr Wilkinson replied: “He said ‘Die you b*****d’ 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 b*****d’.”
Mr Wilkinson added: “There’s no motive, there is no explanation.
“My personal feeling – and this is purely my personal feeling – is that he’d lost his job, he lost his flat.
“And he decided that because his life was going bad ways, he was going to take it out on the people that had cared and looked after him.”
“She was a charitable person, she never shouted or lost her temper, she wouldn’t walk past anybody.
“She’d quite often see tramps and homeless people on the ring road, and she’d come home to make sandwiches and get towels to take back.
“It was this charitable side that let in Aaron. She found him one day about a year ago, outside Tesco, just sleeping in a cardboard box.
“We helped him on and off for the past 12 months – it’s just the way Tracey was, she always wanted to help people.
“It’s so difficult for us knowing that he could do this to when Tracey was nothing but kind – we’ve lost everything.”
Mr Wilkinson has detailed memories of conversations with Barley, including one over an evening dinner at his family home. He said: “I just tried to get a feeling of what he felt and what he wanted in life.
“I can remember quite vividly him saying to me ‘I just need somebody to give me a chance, I need somebody to give me a lucky break’.
“We decided that we would like to help him, so I employed him at one of the businesses that I run down in Newport in South Wales.”
Homeless man Aaron Barley pleads guilty to murdering mum Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and her 13-year-old son Pierce
However Mr Wilkinson said: “He started taking drugs and, as a business, we had to let him go.”
In January this year, Barley obtained full-time work and started to live in a flat in Brierley Hill, near Stourbridge.
He would see the family once or twice a week for dinner and had spent Christmas Day with them despite being sacked from the business.
But he may have been pushed over the edge when a mobile phone contract, which was being paid for him, was cancelled by the family.
Barley spent the night before his double murder skulking around the Wilkinson’s family home, waiting in the garden for almost six hours until he spotted Mr Wilkinson taking the family dog Mandy out for a walk.
The loner – dressed all in black – crept into the house through an unlocked kitchen door at 7:34am and took two kitchen knives upstairs to attack Mrs Wilkinson and Pierce in their bedrooms.
After his arrest he refused to take a blood test that would have shown if he was on drugs or drunk at the time and never explained his actions.
However, the court heard he bragged in custody about the killings and said he was “glad” they were dead, with his only regret being not managing to murder Mr Wilkinson.
‘It’s me, it’s us!’ Daughter tells of horrific moment she Googled ‘Stourbridge stabbing’ and saw a picture of her house
Speaking on the day her mother and brother’s killer admitted his guilt, Lydia Wilkinson told of how she found out about the horrific attack.
She said: “I was told that my dad was still in theatre when I found out (about the stabbings) because I found out from my boyfriend ringing me to check if my family were OK.
“I remember typing into Google ‘Stourbridge, stabbings’. The first link showed a photo of my house with police tape around it.
“I remember ringing my boyfriend back and saying ‘it’s me, it’s us, they’ve been stabbed’.
“I then proceeded to go into a friend’s room, where we called the police and asked if this was real or not, if it was me.
“They sent over officers to my halls of residence in Bristol. My phone was taken off me so that I couldn’t find out online.
“They said ‘we are very sorry to tell you that your mum and brother have passed away and your dad is in theatre and we don’t know whether he will survive or not, we have had no news’.”
Barley first had contact with the family after Tracey had successfully battled an alcohol addiction at a rehab centre .
She continued to work voluntarily at the centre in Lye, West Mids, and first met Barley in December 2015.
He added: “We were such a tight unit as a family – we laughed a lot, joked a lot, loved each other and our dog.
“Our lives revolved around each other – that’s gone now, and it’s devastating.
“Our lives have just been shattered, we’re a family that’s been wrecked.”
Lydia, who initially feared she would have to plan a triple funeral as her dad lay in a critical condition, today told Sky News: “I take a lot of strength in the fact that dad is still with me because for a few hours I had nobody and I was alone in the world.
“For dad to make such an immense recovery I take a lot of strength.
“Day to day it’s a case of remembering my mum and brother and the happy times we had and I know they’d be very proud of us and what we’ve achieved so far and they’d want us to carry on so we will.”
She added: “My mum was stunning. She had a beautiful personality, she knew fashion extremely well – better than anyone else I have ever known.
“She was just very caring and helpful. She loved her family – she was very invested in her family and I was very, very close with my mum.
“I was due to come home the day after and pick out a dress for my university ball, which I obviously didn’t end up doing with her.
“To have my best friend taken from me in life at such a young age is a hardship I would never wish on anyone.
“Pierce was just handsome, funny, clever. He was very personable, everybody made friends with Pierce. He could make friends in an empty room.
“They loved to watch films together. Their favourite pastime was on a cold winter’s day to get under a blanket together and watch films.”
Mr Wilkinson and his daughter Lydia were pictured arriving Birmingham Crown Court this morning holding hands before they heard Barley admit the killings which devastated their family.
Lydia has since returned to Bristol University to continue her biology studies, and Mr Wilkinson moved back into the family home three months ago.
He said: “It’s our home and, after taking so much from us, we couldn’t possibly have it that he [Barley] would take anything else.”
The Good Samaritans, massive fans of Premier League team West Bromwich Albion, were also dog lovers and had taken in a greyhound from the local trust.
Meanwhile Barley had a troubled upbringing and in 2006 police feared for his safety after he had gone missing from his home in Bromsgrove, Worcs, with two friends for four days.
School friends from the Hunters Hill Technology College in Bromsgrove revealed Barley went off the rails after his parents passed away.
His dad died of cancer when he was aged 4 and two years later his mother died of a heart attack.
School friend Mark Waltz, 25, said: “He wasn’t very popular at school.
“No one socialised with him and he wasn’t well liked because of the things he said. He would say sick things about people’s mum’s and kids, he was always getting bullied for it.
“He would say things about raping people’s sisters. He tried to bully people but they always put him in his place.”
Tory councillor and friend Colin Elcock said: “They took in a homeless person who was a local and Peter found him a job at his company.
“Tracey certainly looked after him with food and that kind of thing and Peter was very pleased to say they were helping him become a member of society again.
“At the last ward meeting back in February they said they were pleased with his progress and had him doing work for them.
“It was a good deed and something the family thought they were doing to help and make a difference in society but it looks like they’ve suffered a serious backlash from it.”
Speaking at their funeral, Lydia said her mother and younger brother had been “as close as a mother and son could be and shared a true bond of love that could never be broken”.
Detective Superintendent Tom Chisholm, West Midland Police’s Head of Homicide:
“Aaron Barley was known to social services and to the police. He was a really chaotic individual who moved around quite a lot and was fostered in Stourbridge for a while.
“We know both of his parents had died and he was in and out of care. He went missing from an address when he was 13.
“He was mostly in children’s homes and he was living rough for quite a long period of time.
“As far as I am aware he was unemployed at the time of the attacks. Tracey was helping him out. He was fairly disturbed and sofa surfing for a period of time before.
“She clearly recognised him as somebody who was in need of help and the caring person that she was she tried her best to help him out.
“We don’t know when the last time he had contact with the family before that morning was. It might be that Tracey had contact with him that we are not aware of.
“There is some social media footprint for him. But there is nothing on those that directly links to this incident.
“We know that he had a Facebook account and clearly he was a very angry person, but there were no direct threats made towards the Wilkinson family.
“He was generally uncooperative so we never got an account for him about why he did it.
“He has never been forthcoming other than to plead guilty to the attempted murder of Peter Wilkinson. It’s so tragic from the family’s point of view. It’s been a heart-breaking case for everyone involved.
“This type of incident is incredibly rare and even rarer as it’s an attack on a loving family. I have been humbled by the dignity and the courage shown by Peter and Lydia.
“I genuinely don’t think any sentence passed on Aaron Barley will ever compensate for the loss of their two loved ones and our thoughts remain with them.
“There’s usually some reason why it’s happened but for now it’s just an unclear tragedy.”
‘To the mother I never had’: Chilling account of how Aaron Barley went from thankyou notes and curry with the Wilkinson family to a plan for slaughter
Aaron Barley was taken in by the Wilkinson family after he was found sleeping rough outside Tesco.
The homeless young man was cared for by kind-hearted Tracey Wilkinson, who decided she would help him get on his feet.
He became a lodger in their £440,000 family home and was given a job by dad Peter Wilkinson’s business in April last year.
He found drugs again and went off the rails in September before he was let go from his role as a general labourer.
After months of no contact he was found asleep on their driveway and the family decided they would help him again.
They got him into council accommodation and paid for him to stay somewhere.
He would do general jobs for them and other members of Mr Wilkinson’s family.
Barley spent Christmas Day with his family, staying for lunch, and Mr Wilkinson said: “I remember he wrote my wife a card saying ‘To the mother that I never had’.”
In January this year, Barley obtained full-time work and started to live in a flat in Brierley Hill, near Stourbridge.
“We were very happy for him,” Wilkinson recalled. “We still saw him then once or twice a week – he would come for dinner.
Recalling a meal he shared with Barley around a month before his wife and son’s murder, Mr Wilkinson said: “I shared a curry and a couple of bottles of beer with him. I dropped him off back at his flat.
“That was it for about three weeks – the next time I saw him he was sticking a knife into my shoulder.”