By Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent
A man accused of repeatedly stabbing an elderly Irishman in the neck, chest and abdomen faces a provisional trial next spring.
Lee Byer, 44, allegedly killed 87-year-old Thomas O’Halloran in what a prosecutor has described as a “vicious attack” in Greenford, west London, on August 16th.
Shortly after 4pm, police received a 999 call from a member of the public who found the victim travelling in his scooter from a passageway that runs between Runneymede Gardens and Welland Gardens.
At that time, Mr O’Halloran was able to tell the passer-by that he had been stabbed, although wounds to his body were clearly visible.
The police arrived within minutes to find Mr O’Halloran had collapsed and was being helped by members of the public.
Police and medics took over first aid, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.54pm.
A postmortem examination found the grandfather, who was known “throughout the local community”, had sustained multiple stab wounds to the neck, chest and abdomen.
Byer, of no fixed address, was charged on August 19th with Mr O’Halloran’s murder and possessing a large knife.
On Tuesday, he made his first appearance at the Old Bailey before the Recorder of London, Judge Mark Lucraft QC.
The defendant appeared by video link from custody at Belmarsh prison wearing a grey tracksuit.
Judge Lucraft set a plea hearing for November 8th with a provisional trial of up to three weeks from May 2nd, 2023.
He remanded the defendant into custody.
Mr O’Halloran, originally from Co Clare in the west of Ireland, was a passionate musician and described as “very popular” in Greenford, often busking for charity.
Footage on social media shows him busking to raise money for Ukraine months before the killing.
He is survived by his family, including his sister, two brothers, nieces and nephews.
Fine Gael senator Martin Conway said Mr O’Halloran visited Ireland regularly and that his death has 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.