'I could feel myself dying': Stourbridge stabbing survivor relives tragic attack which killed his wife and son
When Peter Wilkinson returned from his routine dog walk and noticed the curtains were closed, he assumed his family had simply overslept.
Opening the back door, he let their pet inside – but the tragic next few minutes would turn his world upside-down.
He was ambushed by homeless Aaron Barley, who lunged at him with a large knife, slashing the dad-of-two in the face and stabbing him in the abdomen and back.
Barley, 24, had already knifed Tracey Wilkinson and their son Pierce to death, and in a still-unexplained frenzy was now attacking Mr Wilkinson in their kitchen.
Recalling the moment he thought his own life was over, Mr Wilkinson, 47, recalled: “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.”
Mr Wilkinson, a businessman who still has the prominent facial scars from the attack in March, was speaking after Barley admitted murder during the first day of his trial at Birmingham Crown Court.
Reliving the minutes after the attack, when Barley had fled their Stourbridge home in the family’s vehicle, he continued: “I think I was on the lawn at this time.
“I got up, went into the kitchen and phoned the emergency services, at the time not thinking I was too badly injured.
“Then I remember looking around and seeing this huge trail of blood across the floor, which was my blood. I then went back out into the back garden, sat in a chair and I remember talking to the person on the other end of the phone and realising that I was actually dying.
“I could feel my lungs filling with fluid and I could feel energy draining from me.
“The next thing I remember is ambulances turning up and I can remember hearing helicopters overhead and the police arrived.”
In an emotionally charged and heartbreaking interview after Barley’s guilty plea, Mr Wilkinson was flanked by his daughter Lydia, 19, who luckily was away at university at the time of the attack.
When emergency services reached the house, they discovered Mrs Wilkinson had already died, and their son was suffering cardiac arrest.
At this point, Mr Wilkinson said he knew he’d lost both his wife and his son.
He was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where he was given a general anaesthetic and treated for his wounds.
The attack left Mr Wilkinson in intensive care for six days, where he received more than 100 stitches.
While her father was recovering from deep stab wounds, student Lydia was hurriedly trying to piece together exactly what had happened.
After hearing of an attack in her local area, the university student Googled the story only to find photos of her own house.
“The first link showed a photo of my house with police tape around it,” she said.
“I remember ringing my boyfriend back and saying, ‘It’s me, it’s us, they’ve been stabbed’.
“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.'”
Lydia spoke of her fears of losing her entire family, adding: “I was planning a triple funeral and how I was going to go about that on my own.”
She said of her father: “I thought he was going to pass away that night.
“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.
“I stayed with him for a long time. I remember the doctors said that he was under heavy sedation and wouldn’t come round.
Three months ago, the pair moved back into their family home, with the support of family, friends, and the local priest.
Mr Wilkinson said: “It’s our home and, after taking so much from us, we couldn’t possibly have it that he (Aaron Barley) would take anything else.
“We love the place. It was very much a family home that we had built and renovated ourselves and we like being there.
“It’s not easy but we have to move on.”
The attack, to which Aaron Barley has now pleaded guilty, came as a complete surprise to everyone.
Tracey Wilkinson had first noticed Barley outside a supermarket when she’d just finished her weekly shop.
Noticing him struggling to keep warm, she offered him help and support.
First, she drove him to the local council, before finding him a bed in a hostel for a few days and providing him with breakfast and dinner.
Over the next few months, the family looked out for him and even found him a job through Mr Wilkinson’s business.
When he’d turned to drugs, the business had been forced to let him go, but Barley had left amicably.
Only a few weeks later, he’d returned to the house and carried out the horrific attacks.
“There’s no motive, there is no explanation,” Mr Wilkinson said, “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.”
Barley’s trial, which was expected to last three weeks, was cut short due to his guilty plea this afternoon.
He is yet to be sentenced.