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Southall man pleads guilty to manslaughter of pensioner in Greenford

A 45-year-old man from Southall who brutally attacked and killed an 87-year-old man as he travelled home on his mobility scooter in Greenford has pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey.

Lee Byer of Allenby Avenue, Southall was arrested by officers following a public appeal after the incident in August 2022.

Byer pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Thomas O’Halloran on the grounds of diminished responsibility and possession of an offensive weapon on 29 April 2024 and will be sentenced on 10 May 2024.

Thomas O'Halloran

During the investigation no motive was found for the attack and no evidence of any previous interaction was ever uncovered.

Detective Chief Inspector Laura Nelson who led the investigation said: “First and foremost, my thoughts today are with Thomas’s family who continue to feel the loss of their much loved father and grandfather. His death was senseless.

“Detectives have conducted a meticulous investigation in order to establish the facts of Thomas’s death. Byer’s movements were tracked from his release from prison up to the day of the attack, enabling us to present evidence that could not be disputed. We have worked closely with the forensic command and their examinations have intrinsically linked Byer to the attack.

“We have worked in partnership with the CPS and mental health professionals in order to understand Lee Byer’s mental health. It is the conclusion of mental health experts that Byer was psychotic when he attacked and killed Thomas O’Halloran. The findings have been shared with Thomas’s family.”

The court heard how on 16 August 2022 Thomas visited Tesco Hoover Building on the A40  and was returning home on his mobility scooter.

He was often seen there busking with his accordion.

At around 4:00pm, as he travelled in the underpass, which runs alongside the A40 in Greenford, West London he was attacked.

CCTV was examined and a man, was seen heading towards an underpass under the A40 at the same time as Thomas.

Moments later the same man, later identified as Byer, was captured running from the scene with a knife in his hand.

Despite his serious injuries Thomas was able to move forward on his scooter to Runnymede Gardens and seek help.

London’s Air Ambulance attended, but despite the best efforts of medics, Thomas died at the scene.

A post-mortem examination revealed Thomas had been stabbed ten times. The cause of death was recorded as stab wounds to the chest and neck.

Following the attack, police moved very quickly to use the CCTV images of the suspected attacker to issue a media appeal.

Several prison officers, who had dealt with Byer whilst he was in prison, saw the media appeals and reported his identity.

The swift recovery of CCTV in this investigation showed Byer holding a knife immediately after the attack. As he fled the scene, CCTV recorded him disposing of the knife handle down a drain.

Detectives recovered the handle and submitted it for urgent forensic examination.

DNA was recovered from the handle which matched Thomas’s and a further DNA match was found on the knife handle matching Byer.

In the early hours of 18 August 2022 officers attended Byer’s home address at Allenby Road in Southall and arrested him on suspicion of murder.

Recently burnt clothing and footwear was found and recovered in his back garden which matched the clothing worn during the attack on Thomas.

Upon arrest, Byer told officers that he could not have committed the crime as “I was in prison, I was in prison, so it is impossible – what you are talking about” but Byer had been released on 11 August 2024, five days before he carried out the attack.

Byer was charged with murder. He is currently being held at Broadmoor high security psychiatric hospital and will be sentenced on 10 May 2024.

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