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HomeNewsMan convicted of killing 87-year-old man in mobility scooter in Greenford

Man convicted of killing 87-year-old man in mobility scooter in Greenford

Lee Byer, 45, of Southall, London, was arrested for the brutal attack on 87-year-old Thomas O’Halloran, who was killed while travelling home on his mobility scooter.

Byer pleaded guilty to manslaughter and possession of an offensive weapon, citing diminished responsibility. He awaits sentencing on May 10, after being brought to justice following a public appeal.

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 Tuesday, 16 August 2022 Thomas visited Tesco on the A40 and was returning home on his mobility scooter. He was often seen there busking with his accordion.

It was about 4pm, as he travelled in the underpass, which runs alongside the A40 in Greenford, West London when 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 was captured running from the scene with a knife in his hand. This person was later identified as Lee Byer.

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 the medics, Thomas died at the scene. The subsequent post-mortem examination found that Thomas had been stabbed ten times. The cause of death was recorded as stab wounds to the chest and neck.

A murder investigation was launched by detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command.

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 – indicating this was part of the weapon used to stab him. A further DNA match was found on the knife handle matching Byer.

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

Recently burnt clothing and footwear was found and recovered in his back garden. This matched the clothing worn during the offence.

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.”

In fact Byer had been released on 11 August, five days before he carried out the attack. Byer was charged with murder. The CCTV and forensic evidence helped build an overwhelming case against him; despite his denials of involvement.

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