A man has denied killing an 87-year-old pensioner as he was riding his mobility scooter.
Lee Byer, 44, appeared at the Old Bailey today accused of murdering Thomas O’Halloran, who was killed in Greenford, West London on August 16.
He pleaded not guilty to murder and possession of an offensive weapon, meaning he’ll stand trial next year, MyLondon reports.
Mr O’Halloran suffered fatal stab wounds to his neck and chest during what prosecutors described as a “vicious attack”.
The victim was found by a member of the public, who called 999.
Mr O’Halloran, originally from Ennistymon in Co Clare, Ireland, was known to busk regularly by the train station in Greenford.
He played the accordion and had recently been busking to raise money for Ukraine, when he would have the country’s flag draped over the front of his scooter.
Mr O’Halloran’s younger brother George said after his death: “He loved to play music. He did not drink or smoke but he could sit in a bar all night long with a bottle of Coke and listen to the band.”
Mr O’Halloran’s nephew, also named Thomas O’Halloran, said the family had been left feeling “numb”.
He added: “At that stage in life, to reach 87 is a feat in itself, but to be taken away from his direct family and his extended family here in Ireland, it’s senseless.”
Linda O’Halloran, one of his nieces in Mr O’Halloran’s hometown, added: “We’re the most open-hearted people but this is hard for my parents. It’s raw and they’re trying to come to terms with it.”
During the outpouring of grief following his death, Gerry Hehir, 65, described Mr O’Halloran as “a very loving man and a very caring man”, adding: “He will be very well remembered for everything he’s done for the community.”
Locals paid emotional tributes to the popular pensioner after his death.
Parish priest Father Tom Daly led the community in prayer, saying: “We pray today for Tom, who died so violently.
“In the face of this kind of awful incident, we don’t know what to do and people feel completely helpless.
“This is one thing to do, is to gather in solidarity. Solidarity with the family, whom we pray for, Thomas, whom we pray for, and with one another in the community here gathered.”
Byer will stand trial at the Old Bailey from May 2 next year.