Man admits killing 87-year-old who was fatally stabbed while riding mobility scooter

A man has admitted killing an 87-year-old mobility scooter rider in west London.

Lee Byer, 45, stabbed Thomas O'Halloran to death in Greenford in a "motiveless" knife attack five days after being released from prison.

A post-mortem found the victim had suffered multiple stab wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen in August 2022.

Mr O'Halloran, a grandfather who was originally from Co Clare in Ireland, was said to be a passionate musician and was described as "very popular" in Greenford, often busking for charity.

Byer, of no fixed address, denied murder but on Monday pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility and having an offensive weapon.

On the afternoon of 16 August 2022, a member of the public found the victim on his scooter who told them he had been stabbed, with his wounds clearly visible, the Old Bailey previously heard.

Mr O'Halloran had been coming from a nearby passageway, and the passer-by called the police soon after 4pm.

Despite being given first aid by members of the public and later police and medics, Mr O'Halloran was pronounced at the scene at 4.54pm.

He and the defendant were seen on CCTV heading towards the passageway where their paths crossed.

Apart from Byer, no-one else went in or out of the area when the victim was attacked, the footage showed.

When he left the passageway, a knife could be seen in Byer's hand.

He was caught on camera putting a knife handle in a drain on the way back to his mother's house. Forensic analysis discovered the victim's blood on the handle, but the blade was never found.

In police interviews following his arrest at his mother's home on 18 August, he denied being the suspect caught on CCTV, claiming he was in his mum's garden or the park at the time.

Clothes matching those seen on CCTV were found in a search of the property as well as a knife set with handles similar to the one found in the drain.

Guilty pleas accepted

Prosecutor Gareth Patterson KC accepted the manslaughter and offensive weapon guilty pleas after mental health reports found Byer was psychotic, hearing voices, and suffering from paranoid delusions and paranoid schizophrenia.

He said the defendant's mental state provided an explanation for what was a "motiveless attack".

Byer had been freed from Wormwood Scrubs on 11 August 2022. He had 15 previous convictions recorded against him for 30 offences dating back to when he was 14. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2011 after being convicted of robbery.

'Deep shock and sadness' at death

At the time of Mr O'Halloran's death, Irish politician Martin Conway said the victim had regularly visited Ireland and that his death had left his home community in Ennistymon in "deep shock and sadness".

"Tommy, as he was known, left Ennistymon for London 71 years ago but travelled home almost every year until about 10 years ago," he said.

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Months before the killing, footage on social media showed Mr O'Halloran busking as he raised money for Ukraine.

Mr O'Halloran was survived by his family, including his sister, two brothers, nieces and nephews.

Old Bailey Judge Mark Lucraft adjourned sentencing until 10 May.