Aaron Barley jailed for at least 30 years for Stourbridge double murder
A Dudley man was today ordered to spend at least 30 years in prison for the brutal murder of a mother and her teenage son in a frenzied attack on a Stourbridge family earlier this year.
Aaron Barley, aged 24, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court today (Wednesday 4 October) for the killings of Tracey Wilkinson and her son Pierce.
They were stabbed to death in their Norton home on the morning of 30 March. Tracey, aged 50, died at the scene and Pierce, who was just 13-years-old, died later in hospital.
Barley pleaded guilty to the murders and to the attempted murder of Tracey’s husband, Peter Wilkinson, who was critically injured, at an earlier hearing.
Barley had been helped by Tracey Wilkinson after she found him sleeping rough outside a supermarket in Stourbridge the previous year.
Friends described her as a kind, loving and generous person, so it was no surprise that she took Barley under her wing and tried to help him make something of his life, after a difficult childhood in and out of foster care and losing both parents at a young age.
The Wilkinsons found Barley a job in Newport, Wales and paid for a mobile phone contract for him, but he soon started skipping work and was evicted from his lodgings.
The family continued to support Barley and he would often eat at the couple’s home in Greyhound Lane, but Pierce and his sister Lydia were never very comfortable with him around.
Barley once again began acting more erratically and in February, after three weeks without contact, Peter Wilkinson cancelled the mobile phone contract.
On the morning of 30 March Peter got up just before 7am and took their greyhound, Mandy, for a walk. He asked Pierce to join him, but the teenager decided to stay put, saying he would go with him the next day. Sadly that walk would never happen.
Unbeknown to the family Barley had tried to break into the family home the night before and when he found it locked, he waited in the garden shed for an opportunity, which came as Peter left.
On his return Barley lunged at Peter, leaving him with stab wounds to his chest and back. As he lay in the garden, he managed to call for help.
Emergency services met a distressing scene where nothing could be done to save Tracey, and, although Pierce was rushed to hospital, he too died from his wounds. Lydia, aged 18 at the time, was away at university.
By now Barley had taken the keys to the family Land Rover and driven off. Spotted a short time later by police he attempted to shake them off but crashed into the garden wall of a house in Norton Road, a short distance from Greyhound lane.
Detective Chief Inspector Edward Foster, from the force’s homicide unit, said: "Barley planned a truly shocking and merciless attack that day. People who knew him described him as ‘a compulsive liar and manipulator’.
"CCTV at the home address and in the car showed the events of the previous night and that morning which led to the untimely and devastating deaths of Tracey and Pierce, leaving no doubt about Barley’s guilt.
"This was a murder of the utmost cruelty and sadness. The Wilkinsons had opened their home to Barley and tried to help him, but he repaid them in such an incomprehensible way.
"Our thoughts remain with Peter and Lydia Wilkinson, along with their wider family, who, I’m sure will feel no justice from seeing Barley imprisoned."
After the court appearance Peter Wilkinson paid tribute to his wife, he said: "Tracey was a beautiful woman inside and out, she was so elegant and stylish and loved her family. She was also very compassionate which led to her caring for others. When she found Aaron sleeping rough outside a supermarket she wanted to help.
"We gave Aaron help, we invited him into our home for meals, found him accommodation and a job and he saw Tracey as a mother-figure. Until this happened, I never considered him dangerous and any threat.
"He shared Christmas Day with us and sent Tracey a card ‘to the mother I never had.’"
He also spoke of his daughter Lydia as his ‘rock’, who gave him the strength and support to recover from his injuries. She added to her father’s tribute saying: "We were a very close family. My mum and Pierce had an iconic mother and son relationship - they did everything together and were very close. Mum was beautiful and kind and Pierce was the best younger brother you could wish for; he was funny, clever and handsome and even when I went to uni, we spoke most days.
"This has left a massive void in my life.
"Originally I thought I’d lost my whole family, I’m so grateful to still have my dad. Through this horrific crime we have seen the worst and best of human nature. It has shown us how many people really genuinely care and support us."
The sentence means Barley will not be considered for release until he has served at least 30 years in prison.