'I'm going to die' - seven teenagers murdered man in machete attack

Occupants of two stolen cars found Bailey Atkinson and chased him prior to the attack
-Credit: (Image: West Midlands Police/SWNS)

Seven teenagers were jailed for life on Friday for murdering a 20-year-old man who was hacked to death with machetes and zombie knives. Bailey Atkinson told a police officer "I'm going to die, tell my mum I love her" as he bled to death in Walsall town centre on January 27 last year.

A court heard he was brutally slaughtered by a gang who hunted him down armed with weapons after he had enjoyed a night out with a female friend. Chilling CCTV footage captured him being chased by the thugs in two stolen cars, who swerved towards him as he tried to make an escape.

Bailey was seen repeatedly jumping out of the way of a Toyota Verso and Seat Leon as the gang took turns to drive at him. The killers eventually cornered Bailey, got out of their vehicles and caught up with him as he tried to scramble away along the High Street.

He was slashed, hacked and chopped at with weapons including a 24cm long Rambo knife and a machete - with one blade being left lodged in his shoulder. One of the yobs tried to take a photo of Bailey as he lay bleeding on the ground before being spooked by witnesses, who called emergency services.

Police and emergency crews dashed to the scene and performed open heart surgery on Bailey, but he could not be saved. On Friday seven of his killers, aged between 17 and 19, were jailed for a minimum total of 130 years after being found guilty at Nottingham Crown Court.

Benjamin Wilkes, 18, Patrick Brookes, 18, Sonny Loveridge, 19, Ronan McCulloch, 18, and three 17-year-olds, who cannot be named, were jailed for life. The court heard the seven-strong gang, aged 15 to 18 at the time, had met in a supermarket car park, where they had planned to scour the streets looking for Bailey.

Bailey had moved to Walsall from Coventry two years earlier to escape a gang lifestyle, but had become embroiled with the town’s warring groups. It’s thought they sought him in retaliation for an attack on a brother of one of their number by Bailey two months previously.

Jurors were told Bailey "didn’t stand a chance" after his attackers caught up with him. After the murder, the occupants of the cars made off to Slater Street in Wolverhampton, where the cars were found burnt out just minutes after the killing. Detectives examined hours of CCTV and mobile phone evidence, plotting each of the defendants’ movements to establish their part in Bailey’s murder.

Murder victim Bailey Atkinson
Murder victim Bailey Atkinson -Credit:West Midlands Police/SWNS

Detective Inspector Jim Mahon, from West Midlands Police's homicide unit, said: “Watching footage of a young man dying asking for a message of love to be passed to his mother is something that has haunted my investigation team. This attack is one of the most shocking I have seen in my time as a police officer.

"Bailey was unarmed and on a night out walking through Walsall town centre. This was a planned attack, the group had stolen cars and tried to use the vehicles to seriously injure Bailey.

“They then set upon him in one of the most ferocious attacks I have seen. Four weapons were used, which included a ‘rambo’ knife and machetes.

“This investigation was complex and extremely challenging. We made a total of 16 arrests and conducted 12 manhunts, which led us all around the country to arrest the suspects.

"I pay respect to Bailey’s mother and family, who have had to endure this trial in the same courtroom as his killers. Again this highlights the tragic consequences of carrying a knife and conflict between groups of young people. One young man has lost his life, while others will face a long time detained in custody and live with the guilt of taking Bailey’s life.”

From left: Sonny Loveridge, Patrick Brookes, Benjamin Wilkes, Ronan McCullough
From left: Sonny Loveridge, Patrick Brookes, Benjamin Wilkes, Ronan McCullough -Credit:West Midlands Police/SWNS

The sentences

Benjamin Wilkes, of Bloxwich, Walsall, was given a life sentence and ordered to serve at least 18 years.

Patrick Brookes, 18, of Walsall, was given a life sentence and ordered to serve at least 20 years.

Sonny Loveridge, 19, of Bloxwich, was given a life sentence and ordered to serve at least 23 years.

Ronan McCulloch,18, of Bloxwich, was given a life sentence and ordered to serve at least 21 years.

The three other teens – all aged 17 – who cannot be named due to their age, were jailed for life and ordered to serve at least 19 years..