Richard Helm: How Wolverhampton feud led to father's death
It started as a feud between two men but soon involved friends and relatives and ended with the death of father-of-four Richard Helm.
Matty Stinson was convinced Luke Fry stole a large amount of money during a burglary at his house in Raven Crescent, Ashmore Park, while he was in prison.
Stinson was freed on early release on September 5 and returned to his home a couple of streets from where Fry had lived until he split up with his partner – Richard Helm's younger sister Kelsie – who remained at the address with the couple's three children.
- UPDATE: Killer jailed over knife attack
Fry sofa surfed and so those wanting to get back at him targeted the house that used to be his home in a bid to flush him out of hiding.
But this meant the criminal damage and threatening behaviour only impacted on Kelsie and the children.
Kelsie told how 27-year-old Ashley Wilson arrived one day with Steph, the partner of Stinson, who was still in jail at the time.
Kelsie recalled: "Ash jumped out of the car and was bouncing about outside the house.
"I was watching him from an upstairs window and heard Steph say to me: 'What are you smiling at?'
"Then I realised it was not a friendly visit but by the time I got outside they had gone."
Kelsie went round to confront Steph at her house, where Steph maintained Fry had burgled the address and robbed them of all the money that was there, the true value of which allegedly fluctuated wildly.
Kelsie's car was vandalised soon afterwards.
She said: "My brothers Rich and Ant were very protective of me. They were aware of what was going on and were concerned for my safety. If anything they were over protective.
"They were frustrated because they knew it was nothing to do with me. It was all down to Luke.
"But the feud had consequences for me and the kids. I was caught in the middle of it."
Richard's partner of 13 years Claire Penn - the couple have four children who were aged between three and 11 at the time of his death - had warned him just weeks earlier not to get involved in the feud.
Ms Penn recalled: "The windows of Kelsie's car had still not been repaired weeks after they were broken. He was sufficiently annoyed for me to tell him not to get involved."
She continued: "When Rich's dad moved away from the area ten years ago he took on a father's role for his younger siblings. He was fit and strong but never carried a knife."
The 37-year-old ground worker was preparing for work when his dad William called at 5am on October 12 to tell him to go round and see Kelsie who had phoned William to tell him she had been beaten up and had more windows broken in her home and car.
Ms Penn said he remained calm after receiving the news but quickly left bare chested to walk the short distance from his home in Stanley Close.
He also left his phone behind and missed the call that might have saved his life. His father quickly changed his mind and fruitlessly rang again minutes later to tell him to go to work because he could travel from his narrowboat home in Cheshire to see Kelsie in an hour.
She was not at home when Richard and his brother Anthony, a fellow ground worker who also lived nearby with his family in Griffiths Drive, arrived but Fry was at the address and wrongly told them Stinson had beaten up their sister and stoned the house.
The error was made by Kelsie who confused Fry's nemesis with Danny Cooper, a man she had not met at that stage, when she viewed grainy CCTV footage of the vandal attack on her home earlier that night.
Full coverage from the trial:
- Killer guilty of murdering Wolverhampton father with kitchen knife
- Murder victim 'ran onto' knife that killed him says accused
- Murder trial told how 'scuffle' ended with petrol bomb and death
- Richard Helm's alleged murderer was 'complete stranger'
- Victim Richard Helm’s sister 'attacked by suspect'
- Murder suspect 'out of control' as Richard Helm stabbed to death
Neither Fry nor Stinson was called to give evidence during the trial.
The latter - who tried to resuscitate the victim with CPR - was released without charge after being arrested at the scene.
He gave a no comment interview and refused to make a witness statement, it was said during the trial.
Mr Stephen Linehan QC, prosecuting, told the jury that Fry was not called because he was untrustworthy.
He explained: "We cannot say he would tell the truth about his behaviour that began the trail of violence that ended in death."
Cooper was found guilty of murder by a jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court, while Wilson was convicted of manslaughter.
Cooper, of Maytree Close in Chelmsley Wood, Birmingham, and Wilson, of Guernsey Drive, also Chelmsley Wood, were both due to be sentenced on Thursday.
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