Family asks killers 'did you really think you could get away with it?' as they are caged

-Credit: (Image: PA)
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Machete-wielding thugs who 'hunted down' their victim before hacking him to death in a deserted town centre have been slammed for their 'sickening' actions. Bailey Atkinson's heartbroken family revealed the 'pain and anguish' they have felt since the 21-year-old was horrifically executed in an attack completely caught on camera.

Footage of the gang's slaughter was so 'horrific' his mother has been unable to watch how her son's final moments unfolded. The chilling recording of his violent death was repeatedly played to jurors who sealed the fate of Mr Atkinson's murderers earlier this year.

Relatives said it was 'sickening' to see the killers 'laughing and joking' during their murder trial, appearing to seem 'undaunted' over what they had done. They showed 'no emotion' as footage captured the victim running for his life before the group cornered and attacked him 'like lions on prey'.

READ MORE: Killer teens who slaughtered victim 'like lions on prey' locked up for more than 130 years for horror execution

Sign up to the BirminghamLive newsletter here to get the latest updates on the biggest and breaking stories.

A statement written by Mr Atkinson's uncle, on behalf of the family, was read out by a relative at Nottingham Crown Court today (Friday, May 24). It comes as his killers were locked up for a total of more than 130 years for their murderous attack.

The statement read: "The 10-week trial was a difficult time for all of us. Having to hear and watch over and over again Bailey’s final moments on this Earth has been particularly harrowing and I would not want to put anyone through that."

Clockwise from top left: Benjamin Wilkes, Patrick Brookes, Sonny Loverage, Ronan McCullogh
Benjamin Wilkes and Patrick Brookes -Credit:WMP

It continued: "It is beyond any of us how human beings can do what you did to Bailey. What type of people are you?

"What on Earth went through your mind afterwards? Did you really think you were going to get away with it? I don't even know how you sleep at night knowing what you did."

The court was told how 'Mummy's boy' Mr Atkinson was 'much loved and adored' by his family and friends. 'Hundreds' of people turned up at his funeral to pay their final respects.

The victim 'loved going out' and was 'fiercely loyal to his friends'. He 'meant so much to a lot of people', the court heard.

Loved ones have had 'sleepless nights' over the actions of the killers, who they branded 'vile and cowardly'. The day Mr Atkinson died is a 'day that will never leave us', they said.

The statement read: "The last time we as a family saw him, he was lying in a mortuary - something none of us will ever forget. His mum couldn't hug him, she couldn't hold his hand, she couldn’t even brush his hair."

Addressing the defendants as she read the statement in court, a relative said: "You have taken his life away." Recalling the moment they discovered Mr Atkinson had died, the family told how it was a 'phone call that no one should ever have to receive'.

The statement read: "Our lives changed and still continue to do so. Things will never go back to normal or how they were before this.

"Life does go on but it is very difficult for Bailey’s mum Kerry who has lost a child." The victim's last words to a police officer at the scene showed the 'bond' he shared with his mother, the family said.

"I'm going to die, tell my mum I love her", Mr Atkinson muttered as he bled to death. The statement read: "Bailey knew he was dying yet it was his mum he was thinking about."

His mum has been left struggling through her 'darkest and hardest days' and finds it difficult to leave the house in the aftermath of her son's murder. The statement read: "Kerry has been left absolutely devastated. She is not the same person.

"When you ended Bailey’s life, you ended hers as well. Kerry only carries on because of her other children, close family and friends who get her through the tough days.

"A mum should never have to bury a child." West Midlands Police previously said Mr Atkinson had moved to Walsall from Coventry two years before his death to 'escape a gang lifestyle'.

His uncle had given him a job, with the victim 'working hard' as he was 'dedicated to changing his life'. In the court statement, Mr Atkinson's uncle said: "I believe he could have done just that."

Bleed kits have been distributed across Walsall in the wake of the killing, the family said. They added: "We hope that Bailey will not just be another statistic. He will not just be another young lad that got stabbed and killed."

Hoping the sentence will act as a deterrent to other youths with knives, the family added: "Stop and think "is it really worth it?"."

To read more on this case - including the full sentences - click here.