Inquest opens | 

Grandson of slain Irish pensioner, Thomas O'Halloran, had to identify his body

Mr O'Halloran, originally from Ennistymon in Co Clare, died after being stabbed in the chest in Greenford, on Tuesday, August 16

Thomas O'Halloran

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The grandson of Irish pensioner, Thomas O'Halloran, who was stabbed to death in London, had to identify his body, an inquest into his death has heard.

Mr O'Halloran, originally from Ennistymon in Co Clare, died after being stabbed in the chest in Greenford, on Tuesday, August 16.

A post-mortem examination undertaken on August 17 found the grandfather, who was known “throughout the local community”, concluded a provisional cause of death as a stab wound to the neck and chest.

Dennis Linter identified his grandfather's body at Fulham Public Mortuary where the inquest was told the elderly man had been stabbed repeatedly in the neck, chest and abdomen.

Shortly after 4pm on August 16, police received a 999 call from a member of the public who found the victim travelling in his scooter from a passageway that runs between Runneymede Gardens and Welland Gardens.

At that time, Mr O’Halloran was able to tell the passer-by that he had been stabbed, although wounds to his body were clearly visible.

The police arrived within minutes to find Mr O’Halloran had collapsed and was being helped by members of the public.

Police and medics took over first aid but he was pronounced dead at the scene at 4.54pm.

"Despite best efforts of all of those attending, he soon died afterwards," Detective Inspector Laura Nelson told the inquest opening on Tuesday, via video link at West London Coroners Court.

CCTV footage allegedly identified suspect Lee Byer (44) who was arrested on suspicion of killing Mr O'Halloran in what a prosecutor has described as a "vicious attack".

Byer, of no fixed address, was charged on August 19 with Mr O'Halloran's murder and possessing a large knife.

On Tuesday, August 23 he made his first appearance at the Old Bailey before the Recorder of London, Judge Mark Lucraft QC.

The defendant appeared by video link from custody at Belmarsh prison wearing a grey tracksuit.

Judge Lucraft set a plea hearing for November 8 with a provisional trial of up to three weeks from May 2, 2023.

The inquest into Mr O'Halloran's death has been suspended, pending the outcome of the criminal trial.

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.

He is survived by his family, including his sister, two brothers, nieces and nephews.

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.

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