Seven teens found guilty of Walsall murder

“Tell my mom I love her” were the last words of 21-year-old Bailey Atkinson as he lay in Walsall town centre having been brutally attacked with blades and machetes in January last year.

In spite of open-heart surgery at the scene, Bailey died from multiple stabs wounds to his back, arms and legs.

Bailey had moved to Walsall from Coventry two years previously to escape a gang life style, but sadly became embroiled in Walsall’s own warring groups.

On the evening of 27 January 2023, Bailey was out with a female friend. A taxi dropped them in Walsall town centre and they were walking past the market stalls when a car swerved towards them.

Bailey told his friend to “run” as he also ran along the High Street. There were two cars in convoy, a Toyota Verso and a Seat Leon, both had been stolen in previous days.

The nine occupants of both vehicles had met up on a supermarket car park shortly before they drove into the town centre looking for Bailey. It’s thought they sought him in retaliation for an attack on a brother of one of their number by Bailey two months previously.

They cornered Bailey and by Lower Hall Lane and drove at him. Bailey managed to escape, but the cars circled and caught up with him further along the High Street where six of the occupants got out and attacked Bailey with machetes and zombie knives.

His attackers got back in the cars leaving him on the floor, one even stopped to try to take a photo of Bailey on his mobile phone, as he lay bleeding on the floor. All occupants of the cars made off to Slater Street in Wolverhampton where the cars were found burnt out just minutes after the killing.

Police were at Bailey’s side in less than five minutes and began CPR, but sadly he was pronounced dead at hospital a short time later.

Detectives launched a meticulous investigation, examining hours of CCTV and mobile phone evidence, plotting each of the defendants’ movements to establish their part in Bailey’s murder.

After a ten-week trial at Nottingham Crown Court, seven teenagers, who were aged between 15 and 18 at the time of the attack, have been found guilty of Bailey’s murder.

They are:

  • Benjamin Wilkes aged 18 of Guild Avenue, Bloxwich
  • Patrick Brookes aged 18 of Hunter Crescent, Walsall
  • Sonny Loveridge aged 19 of Irvine Road, Bloxwich
  • Ronan McCulloch aged 18 of Livingstone Road, Bloxwich

Three other teens – all aged 17 – were convicted and cannot be named due to their age. Two other defendants also on trial were found not guilty. Detective Inspector Jim Mahon from the force’s homicide unit led the investigation. He 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 court room 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.”

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