Man charged with the murder of mobility scooter driver Thomas O'Halloran, 87


DETECTIVES investigating the murder of 87-year-old grandfather Thomas O'Halloran on a mobility scooter in Ealing have charged a man.

Lee Byer, 44, of Allenby Avenue, Southall, west London, appeared at Willesden Magistrates' Court today (Friday, 19 August) to face a charge of murdering Mr O'Halloran.

Byer 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.

He 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.

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.

The Irish president has paid tribute to Mr O’Halloran.

In a statement, Michael D Higgins, said: “On behalf of the people of Ireland, may I express my profound sympathy to all the members of the family of Thomas O’Halloran who died under such tragic circumstances this week, to the Irish community in London of whom he was a part, and to all in London and Ireland who knew him.

“I can only imagine the deep shock that his family and his friends are experiencing and may I convey my heartfelt condolences to them all.

“The grief that they will be feeling, I can share.”

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.

A vigil is due to to be held for Mr O’Halloran on Sunday morning on the street where he died.

The family of Mr O'Halloran have asked for their privacy to be respected at this very difficult time. Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command lead. They are not looking for anyone else in connection with the investigation. Anyone with footage of the incident is asked to upload it using this online form: Public Portal (mipp.police.uk) If you have any other information about the murder, please call the incident room on 020 8358 0300 quoting 4691/16AUG. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood who leads the investigation said: “I would like to thank the public for their overwhelming support following this horrific incident. As a result of the release of a CCTV image yesterday, an arrest has been made and this investigation is progressing at pace. “Mr O’Halloran’s family have been updated with this development and continue to be supported by specially trained officers. I would reiterate their previous request that their privacy is respected by everyone as they continue to come to terms with their tragic loss.” A murder investigation was launched after police were called at 4.06pm on Tuesday, 16 August to Runnymede Gardens, at the junction with Cayton Road, Greenford to reports of a man with stab wounds.

Officers responded and gave emergency first aid until the arrival of the London Ambulance Service and London's Air Ambulance.

Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.

He has been named as Thomas O’Halloran, who lived in the Greenford area. Officers believe that Mr O’Halloran was stabbed in Western Avenue shortly before managing to travel 75 yards or so on his mobility scooter to Runnymede Gardens, where he flagged down a member of the public for help. Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command are leading the investigation. Anyone with footage of the incident is asked to upload it using this online form. If you have any other information about the murder, please call the incident room on 020 8358 0300 quoting 4691/16AUG. Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, by calling 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

Detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command are leading the investigation and they have released images of a man they are keen to identify as a matter of urgency. He was seen fleeing the scene armed with a knife.

He was wearing grey shorts, a dark coloured t-shirt, a white baseball cap and white patterned builder style gloves.

Mr Eastwood, who is leading the investigation, said on Wednesday: “We are keen to identify the man in the CCTV images as a matter of urgency.

“My team and I have been working around the clock to bring Mr O’Halloran’s killer to justice, but we need your help."

The public were warned not to approach the man.

Chief Superintendent Sean Wilson, who is in charge of policing for west London, including Ealing, said: “Mr O’Halloran had his life needlessly snatched away in a shocking act of unprovoked violence.

“I understand that the community will, quite rightly, be shocked and appalled by this incident as I am too.

“Mr O’Halloran was a very well known and much loved member of our community. My thoughts are with his family and friends. I’d like to appeal for their privacy to be respected while they come to terms with their loss.

“Detectives from the Specialist Crime Command, with the assistance of my officers, have been working tirelessly over the last 20 hours to understand what has happened and to identify who is responsible for this horrific crime.

“The public will see extra officers patrolling the area over the coming days. They are there to help and protect you – so if you have any concerns or information that you want to share then please approach them.

“I realise the impact incidents like this have on our communities, but I’d like to reassure you that we are doing all we can to solve the horrendous crimes we’ve seen across London over the last few days.

“I stress that London remains one of the safest cities in the world, but we need your help and so please come forward with any information you have about this awful incident or any other violent crimes.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with Thomas O’Halloran and his family at this time.”