Man pleads guilty to killing university worker during knife rampage

Man, 27, pleads guilty to killing university worker, 23, and charges linked to seven other people injured during knife rampage in Birmingham city centre

  • Zephaniah McLeod has admitted killing one man and wounding seven victims
  • McLeod, 27, stabbed Jacob Billington, 23, to death on September 6 last year
  • Admitted four charges of attempted murder and three of wounding with intent
  • Prosecutors said McLeod had carried out ‘totally unprovoked’ attacks
  • McLeod ‘suffered from paranoid schizophrenia at the time’, the court heard 

A 27-year-old man who carried out a 90-minute knife rampage in Birmingham has today admitted killing a 23-year-old Sheffield Hallam graduate and wounding seven others.

Zephaniah McLeod had already pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Jacob Billington on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but has now admitted four charges of attempted murder and three of wounding with intent in a series of stabbings on September 6 last year.  

The defendant, who appeared in court over a video link from Ashworth Hospital wearing a white T-shirt and dark blue zip-up top, spoke to confirm his name and say he understood proceedings, before entering pleas. 

University worker Mr Billington, from Crosby, Merseyside, died from a wound to the neck on his way back to a hotel after enjoying a night out while visiting a friend who was studying in the city.  

The seven other people McLeod stabbed were Dimitar Bachvarov, Migle Dolobauskaite, Thomas Glassey, Michael Callaghan, Shane Rowley, Rhys Cummings and Ryan Bowers.

Prosecuting, Peter Grieves-Smith QC told Birmingham Crown Court that McLeod, of Selly Oak, had carried out ‘totally unprovoked’ attacks on members of the public and had stabbed the first three victims in ‘quick succession’.

Zephaniah McLeod, from Selly Oak, has pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Jacob Billington and charges in connection with seven other people injured in a series of knife attacks in the city centre 

Mr Billington was among a group who were making their way back to their hotel after enjoying a night out while visiting a friend. A post-mortem examination concluded he died from a stab wound to the neck 

Police had issued CCTV images of a man wanted in connection with a series of stabbings

Forensic officers cross a cordon on Hurst Walk near the Arcadia Centre, where part of the attack took place

Mr Billington’s family were present in court and over the video-link to hear the pleas of McLeod, whom the court heard suffered with paranoid schizophrenia. 

McLeod had approached his first victim, Dimitar Bachvarov, in Constitution Hill, and asked for a cigarette before stabbing him in the neck with a knife and running off. About 20 minutes later in Livery Street, Migle Dolobauskaite was stabbed to the left side of the neck and shoulder by McLeod. 

Thomas Glassey was in Barwick Street when he was stabbed twice by McLeod and left in a critical condition. Mr Grieves-Smith said the knife the defendant used was later found in a drain nearby. 

McLeod then went to a pizza shop and tried to get another knife. When his request for a knife was refused, he got a taxi back to his home and armed himself with another knife before going out again to look for more victims. 

He then stabbed Mr Billington and Michael Callaghan who were with a group of friends who had returned to a hotel after a night out. A post-mortem examination concluded that Mr Billington died as a result of a neck wound.

McLeod will be sentenced on September 27 and 28.

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