19 June 2024

Man stabbed woman to death after warning he would kill a stranger, court told

19 June 2024

A man stabbed a woman to death in a park hours after warning he would kill a stranger if he was not sectioned, a court heard.

Cameron Davis, 31, fatally attacked Lorna England, 74, as she walked home through Ludwell Valley Park, in the Wonford area of Exeter, Devon, on the afternoon of February 18 last year.

Exeter Crown Court heard Davis admits killing Mrs England and has pleaded guilty to a charge of manslaughter by diminished responsibility but is on trial for her murder.

Joanna Martin KC, prosecuting, said Davis stabbed Mrs England to death because he was “angry and upset” rather than affected by a mental illness to a level that his responsibility was diminished.

She described how Mrs England had left her home, where David, her husband of 52 years, remained to walk to buy flour from a Lidl supermarket and was returning when she was attacked.

“Up until this point on February 18 2023, for Lorna and for David, it was a perfectly normal day,” Ms Martin told the jury.

“What followed was something that no-one could contemplate, on that crisp February afternoon here in Exeter. No-one except one man – the defendant Cameron Davis.

“At about 3.55pm, in a wooded area of Ludwell Valley Park, Cameron Davis attacked and fatally stabbed Lorna England with a knife. She died at the scene.”

The court heard Davis did not know Mrs England and stabbed her twice, once across her neck and a stab wound to her chest with a depth of 12cm. Mrs England also sustained defensive injuries to her hand.

Ms Martin said: “He says he was so mentally unwell at the time that his rational thinking or his ability to control his actions was substantially impaired because of a mental illness.”

The trial will hear from two psychiatrists – one who says Davis had a schizoaffective disorder and a second who says he has a personality disorder which made him “manipulative and angry” when combined with drug and alcohol abuse.

Ms Martin said Dr John Sandford, the second psychiatrist, believed Davis’ actions were “as a result of him being angry and upset”.

Jurors were told Davis was living in temporary accommodation provided by a housing association, having been homeless in Exeter when he moved there from Bournemouth.

On January 23, he asked to talk to his support workers as his mental health was deteriorating, saying he would either hurt himself or someone else, Ms Martin said.

He was assessed by two psychiatrists on January 28. They decided he did not need to be sectioned, with Davis becoming angry when told this.

Davis began expressing his love for his support worker between February 9 and 16 and was seen by the mental health team, who decided he did not need to be sectioned.

He was then given seven days’ notice to leave his accommodation.

Ms Martin told how Davis called police at 4.41am on the morning of February 18 – the day he attacked Mrs England – and threatened to take his life in a fire at his accommodation unless he was arrested.

Paramedics and police attended the property, where they found Davis sitting on the pavement outside.

“He said he was going to kill someone if he was discharged that day,” Ms Martin said.

“He said he had committed other crimes in the past and always got away with it. He repeated that if he was discharged, he would kill a random person.”

Davis was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where he was told that if he did anything it would be a pre-meditated crime.

Two psychiatrists discussed whether to section Davis and decided that he did not need to be admitted to hospital, with Davis leaving at 12.49pm.

He later bought vodka and a knife at a Lidl supermarket and went to Ludwell Valley Park, where he fatally attacked Mrs England and took her mobile phone.

A dog walker saw “physical contact” between Davis and Mrs England and went to her aid, while Davis walked away to dispose of the knife, phone and his hooded top.

Emergency services were called and attended the scene but Mrs England was declared dead at 4.44pm.

After leaving the park, Davis went to shops and two pubs in Exeter before being spotted on CCTV sitting on the pavement in the city centre at 9.30pm.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder, telling police: “I f***** warned you c****, that’s why I f****** done it. I didn’t want to but none of you f****** c**** listened.”

Davis later said: “Why didn’t they listen to me at the hospital? The people at the hospital should pay for this. I cried out for help.”

The defendant was assessed at the police station and declared fit to be detained and fit to be interviewed, Ms Martin said.

He made no comment in police interviews. Davis denies murder and his trial continues.

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox