A taxi-driving dad was set on fire outside his home days after his windows were smashed in a "terrifying campaign of intimidation".
Barry Bailey, 42, died from 80% burns after he was set on fire outside his family home on Chapel Avenue, Walton, in the early hours of November 15 1994. Mr Bailey, whose surname was sometimes written as Ballie in early newspaper reports, had just got out of his Austin Montego private hire car after a night's work when he was ambushed by a group of men who poured a flammable liquid over him before setting him alight.
The "fireball attack" was the culmination of claims that the dad-of-two was the "subject of a terrifying campaign of intimidation" that saw the windows of his house and taxi smashed in the days leading up to his death. Four people were arrested in connection with the murder but to this day - nearly 30 years on - no one has been charged.
As part of the ECHO's unsolved crime series, this paper has revisited the case and pulled together various coverage from the time to try and bring some justice for Mr Bailey's family. Police reports at the time noted how "a man filled a cannister of petrol at around 2am from the all-night garage beside the Black Bull pub in Walton".
The man then left on foot towards Walton Vale, near where Mr Bailey lived, before neighbours reported seeing the dad on fire. Neighbour Helen McKenna told the ECHO's former sister paper the Liverpool Daily Post at the time: "I was in bed reading when I heard these high pitched unmerciful screams.
"I looked out and saw the flames and at first thought the house was on fire, then I heard people shouting for the man to lie down and I realised it was him on fire. The whole thing is just horrible."
The same neighbour also told the Liverpool Daily Post how his taxi was targeted the day before the fire attack. She said: "On Monday (November 14) I believe a car pulled up and someone smashed the windows of his taxi. Someone may have had it in for him and his family and this could be part of a vendetta."
The claims of a vendetta led local papers - including the ECHO, the Liverpool Daily Post and the Anfield and Walton Star - to run headlines of a possible campaign of intimidation against the family man. However, Detective Chief Inspector Russ Walsh, who was the lead officer on the case, said it was just one of a number of lines of enquiry, branding the horrific attack as "motiveless".
He said in the days after the incident: "This is a horrific and barbaric attack on a family man. It seems as he made his way into the house from his car he was doused with some substance and set alight by a person or persons unknown. We are obviously treating this apparently motiveless attack as a criminal matter and would appeal for any witnesses to contact us."
Following the attack, the victim was rushed to Aintree Hospital - then known as Fazakerley Hospital - before he was later transferred to the specialist burns unit at Whiston Hospital. He underwent a five-hour operation, with reports at the time indicating his chances were "50/50".
However, Mr Bailey died from his injuries a week after the incident with his wife and two sons, aged 20 and 16 at the time, by his side. The day after his death four men - including three brothers - were arrested in connection with the fire attack following a series of coordinated dawn raids.
The four suspects were questioned by detectives investigating the brutal killing. However, the men - nor anyone else - has ever been charged in connection with his shocking murder.
A spokesperson from Merseyside Police's serious crime review unit said: "We remain committed to investigating all information which may help find anyone who was responsible for the horrific murder of Barry Bailey on November 15 1994 in Walton. A number of years may have passed but if you still have any information and not yet spoken to police please contact @MerPolCC, call Merseyside Police’s major crime unit on 0151 777 8618 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.”
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