Homeless Aaron Barley pleads guilty to Stourbridge double murder

Adele Robinson, Sky News Correspondent

A man has admitted the double murder of a mother and her 13-year-old son at their home after the family took him in off the streets and looked after him.

Tracey Wilkinson, 50, and Pierce Wilkinson, 13, were stabbed to death inside the family house in Stourbridge on 30 March.

Aaron Barley, 24, who was homeless at the time of the attack, pleaded guilty at Birmingham Crown Court to killing Mrs Wilkinson and her son on the day his murder trial was due to begin.

Peter Wilkinson, Tracey's husband and Pierce's father, was also attacked in the garden but survived.

Mr Wilkinson said when Barley attacked him with the knife he said: "Die, you bastard."

After he had stabbed him, Mr Wilkinson said: "Aaron, we tried to help you."

"There's no motive, there is no explanation," said Mr Wilkinson.

"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."

Earlier this year, Barley admitted the attempted murder of 47-year-old Mr Wilkinson.

Barley's psychiatric reports had failed to provide him with the possible defence of diminished responsibility.

Lydia Wilkinson, the 19-year-old daughter of the couple, was away at university at the time of the attack.

Mr Wilkinson underwent a lifesaving operation and spent six days in intensive care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after the stabbing.

Speaking afterwards he said he only learned of his son's death when he woke up following surgery.

The company director, who runs a safety barrier manufacturing firm, said the attack had destroyed his "happy family bubble".

Mrs Wilkinson was buried with her son in a single white coffin at their funeral in June.

Paying tribute to his wife, Mr Wilkinson described her "as a very compassionate woman" who "wouldn't see harm come to anybody, she liked to help people".

He said Tracey Wilkinson had come across Aaron Barley in March 2016 when she was shopping one day at Tesco in Stourbridge.

"She came out," Peter Wilkinson said, "and Aaron was keeping warm in a cardboard box and she was taken aback by this, and decided off-the-cuff that she wanted to help him".

Mrs Wilkinson took Barley to Dudley Council by car to get help and organised for him to stay at a hostel for a few days.

From that point onwards she organised breakfast and dinner for him, sometimes at the family home.

Mr Wilkinson said he gave Barley a job at one of his businesses in Newport in South Wales.

"In September 2016 he went off the rails. He started taking drugs and as a business we had to let him go.

"It was very amicable", said Mr Wilkinson. "He knew that that was the case because of what he'd been doing."

A few months later Mr Wilkinson returned to the family home in Stourbridge to find Barley asleep "like a bundle in the corner of the drive".

Mrs Wilkinson decided that the family should help him again as he appeared to have been beaten up.

Barley had Christmas dinner with the Wilkinsons and had a curry with the family three weeks before the murders.

"I dropped him off back at his flat in Brierley Hill that night," Mr Wilkinson said, "and that was it for about three weeks - the next time I saw him he was sticking a knife into my shoulder".

His daughter Lydia described how she had identified the bodies of her mother and brother in hospital.

"I went in and I just stayed with my mum and brother for a while and said that I was sorry I couldn't protect them.

"And I stroked their hair. I was with my liaison officers and my boyfriend and I just stayed there because I knew that was going to be the last time I saw them in my life."