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Richard Helm: Killer found guilty of murdering Wolverhampton father with kitchen knife

By John Scott | Wolverhampton | Crime | Published: | Last Updated:

Danny Cooper was found guilty of murder and Ashley Wilson was convicted of manslaughter after Richard Helm was stabbed to death in Wolverhampton.

Richard Helm, inset, was found stabbed next to a burned-out Land Rover in Wolverhampton

A 32-year-old man who was "enjoying the violence" when he stabbed to death a father of four is facing a life sentence after being convicted of murder.

Danny Cooper was today found guilty of murdering Richard Helm in a residential Wolverhampton street last year.

His partner in crime, 27-year-old Ashley Wilson, who egged him on, was found guilty of manslaughter. The pair will be sentenced on Thursday.

Danny Cooper, 32, was convicted of murder

Relatives of the 37-year-old murder victim wept after the Wolverhampton Crown Court jury returned its unanimous verdicts after almost five hours of deliberation.

Richard's partner of 14 years Claire Penn said: "He was a highly protective, loving, caring man who would always go the extra mile to ensure all his family had all they needed.

"I feel unable to grieve and stay strong for my children but when I am alone I let the feelings come out. I struggle to sleep and have an empty feeling inside."

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'A living nightmare'

The victim's mother Georgina Watkin, who lives close to where the murder took place, added: "His younger brother and sister looked up to him.

"Anthony is constantly asking 'why Rich and not me' and his personality has changed. Kelsie says 'what if........'

Ashley Wilson, 27, was convicted of manslaughter

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"I was only able to stand on the other side of the police cordon while all the time my son's body lay underneath the tent.

"I am angry and frustrated that he lost his life through such violence. I see the scene of the murder each time I leave home. It is a living nightmare."

Violent feud

Tragedy struck after Cooper got involved in a feud that had nothing to do with him and plunged a kitchen knife into the chest of Mr Helm.

The blade sliced through one of Mr Helm's ribs, went six inches into his body and right through his heart. He was certified dead at the scene.

It is not known who threw the petrol bombs which led to the Range Rover catching fire

Mr Helm had been looking for the man who had beaten up his sister Kelsie in the street less than three hours earlier when the violence started.

He had wrongly been told the culprit of the attack was Matty Stinson, who was in a bitter feud with mother-of-three Kelsie's former partner Luke Fry over the burgling of his home.

Mr Helm lay dead or dying within five minutes of him and his brother Anthony arriving outside the home of ex-con Stinson in Raven Crescent, Ashmore Park, early on October 12, Wolverhampton Crown Court heard.

More from the trial:

Cooper - who had trained as a boxer and won bouts at white collar charity events - was the real culprit who had floored Kelsie three times with "quite hard" punches during a clash in the street after smashing windows at her house and car in nearby Adey Road.

Cooper barely knew Stinson, but had been told about his feud while drinking with him at the house on the night they met.

Police at the scene in Ashmore Park

The pair were introduced through 27-year-old Wilson who was a friend of both and was also at Stinson's house when Richard and Anthony Helm turned up and violence flared.

Stinson was on the driveway when the brothers arrived at Raven Crescent in Anthony's Range Rover Freelander at around 5.15am.

Danny Cooper and Ashley Wilson were inside Stinson's house.

Petrol bombs

Cooper snatched a knife from a block in the kitchen as he left the house to confront Mr Helm and his brother and fatally stabbed the victim moments later.

During the melee an unidentified person hurled two petrol bombs. Anthony managed to pick up and throw away one but the car caught fire as Richard was stabbed.

The road was cordoned off as forensic teams examined the scene

The Range Rover was left burnt out metres from where Mr Helm died.

Giving evidence during the trial, Anthony recalled seeing somebody he could not identify attacking his brother with a hammer before smashing the windows of the Range Rover with the weapon.

After being distracted by trying to discard the petrol bombs, Anthony turned to see his brother dying on the floor.

Prosecutor Mr Stephen Linehan QC said: "The defendant was out of control and enjoying the violence he was engaging in.

"He had heard about the feud and decided to join in on the side of Stinson."

Manslaughter

The jury acquitted Wilson of the murder after rejecting the prosecution claim that he egged on Cooper to commit the crime but found him guilty of manslaughter.

Wilson gave four 'no comment' interviews and declined to give evidence during the trial.

Wilson and Cooper had been together during the attack on Kelsie's home. Although Wilson did not break the windows, both had chased a car in which Fry was a passenger earlier that night.

Ironically Wilson and Kelsie often walked home from school together in their youth.

Cooper, of Maytree Close in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, had admitted attacking Kelsie and breaking the windows but denied murder.

Wilson, of Guernsey Drive, also Chelmsley Wood, had also pleaded not guilty to murder.

Both will be sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Thursday.

John Scott

By John Scott
Reporter/News Feature Writer

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