Friday, August 19, 2022

By Henry Vaughan, PA

A man charged with the murder of 87-year-old Irishman Thomas O’Halloran, who was stabbed in the chest in a “vicious attack” on a mobility scooter in London, has been remanded in custody.

Lee Byer (44) appeared at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Friday over the alleged killing of Mr O’Halloran, in Greenford, west London, on Tuesday.

Byer, from Southall, west London, stood in the dock wearing grey prison-issue tracksuit bottoms and T-shirt, with a sweater tied around his waist.

He spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth and that he was of no fixed abode.

Malik Aldeiri, defending, made no application for bail.

A Serco prison van leaves Willesden Magistrates’ Court in northwest London, where Lee Byer appeared on Friday charged with the murder of Thomas O’Halloran. Photo: PA

Byer was not asked to enter pleas to charges of murder and possession of an offensive weapon – a large knife – and was remanded in custody by Deputy District Judge Ross Cohen ahead of his next appearance at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

Outlining the case against Byer, prosecutor Louise Ahmad described the alleged murder as a “vicious attack”.

She said Mr O’Halloran, originally from Co Clare who was known “throughout the local community”, collapsed from his mobility scooter outside Runnymede Gardens having been stabbed in the chest.

He was found by a member of the public, who telephoned for assistance, she added.

Flowers outside Perivale Tesco in Greenford, London, near where Thomas O’Halloran was fatally stabbed on Tuesday. Photo: PA

Byer looked at members of the media in court and covered his face with his hand during the hearing, which lasted less than four minutes.

The judge said he faces a bail hearing at the Old Bailey next week and is expected to face a plea and trial preparation hearing at the same court on September 16th.

“This is a matter this court has no power to deal with and accordingly I am sending both matters… to the Central Criminal Court,” he told Byer.

‘Very popular’

Mr O’Halloran, originally from Ennistymon, Co Clare, was a passionate musician and described as “very popular” in Greenford, often busking for charity.

Footage on social media shows Mr O’Halloran busking to raise money for Ukraine months before the killing.

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

Thomas O’Halloran (87) on his mobility scooter playing the accordian outside Tesco, Perival, west London. Screenshot: via Kieran McKenna Facebook page/PA

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.

Former Labour MP Stephen Pound paid tribute to Mr O’Halloran, an ex-constituent, telling GB News “Tom was a real local character” and a “sweet, lovely man”.

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