They thought they were doing a good deed. When the Wilkinson family took a down-on-his-luck young man off the streets and invited him into their home, it was an act of pure kindness. But it was to be one which was to lead to half of the family being murdered…
Aaron Barley was homeless and desperate. Tracey and Peter Wilkinson, from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, England, took pity on him. They wanted to help him out. He moved into their home. They bought him a mobile phone. They gave him money, food, work, shelter and friendship. He would repay them by stabbing Tracey, Peter and 13 year-old Pierce repeatedly with a kitchen knife. Only Peter would survive his wounds.
Speaking to The Sun, Mr Wilkinson said: ‘I always walk the dog at 7am and Tracey always left me a cup of tea on the kitchen counter for when I got back. On that Thursday morning there was no cup there.’
He went on: ‘This is how the evil piece of scum repaid us. I will feel guilty for the rest of my life for letting this man get so close to my family.’
Barley has just been sentenced to thirty years behind bars for his vile crime.
His 19 year-old daughter Lydia, 19, managed to escape the attack because she was away at Bristol University at the time. She told newspapers how she had surprised her mother on Mother’s Day by hiding in the back of her dad’s car just four days before the fateful stabbing.
She also spoke to The Sun, saying: ‘When he got back Dad asked Mum to go outside and open the boot of the Land Rover to get her present but to close her eyes. When she did I jumped out. We fell into each other’s arms and cried tears of joy.’
The presiding judge told Barley on sentencing him that he had ‘abused the victims’ family’s extraordinary kindness and generosity’.
‘You abused your knowledge of the family home, which you had only gained through the Wilkinsons’ extraordinary kindness and generosity to you,’ the judge continued. ‘Mrs Wilkinson and Pierce, only 13, were in bed at home, where they were entitled to feel and should have been safe.’
‘You have shown no remorse – indeed only regret that Mr Wilkinson survived his injuries and at times satisfaction in what you did achieve. You knew that you were destroying the family. It is what you intended. The Wilkinson family, and in particular Mrs Wilkinson, had done nothing but their best to help you. Mr and Mrs Wilkinson were both financially and emotionally generous to you. You betrayed their trust in every way, exploiting the knowledge of their household.’
‘It is difficult to imagine what went through Mrs Wilkinson and Pierce’s minds when you attacked them but they must have been bewildered and terrified. One of them, at least, must have been aware of the stabbing of the other.’
Barley later admitted two counts of murder and one for the attempted murder of Mr Wilkinson. He will now serve a minimum life sentence of thirty years in prison.