Killer jailed for life over 'murderous rampage' in which Sheffield man Jacob Billington was fatally stabbed

A killer has been jailed for life over a ‘murderous rampage’ in which a Sheffield man was stabbed to death.

Thursday, 18th November 2021, 2:07 pm

Paranoid schizophrenic Zephaniah McLeod, aged 28, killed 23-year-old Jacob Billington, from Sheffield, and injured seven others in a knife attack in September 2020.

He struck in Birmingham city centre, where Jacob and a group of friends had been celebrating a pal’s birthday.

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Zephaniah McLeod has been jailed for life for a knife attack in Birmingham

Birmingham Crown Court heard McLeod had been allowed to walk free from prison unsupervised despite a history of mental problems and violent offending before going on his 90-minute stabbing spree.

The court heard he told onlookers “watch this” as he plunged a blade into the chests, necks and faces of revellers enjoying a night out in the city.

Jacob, who worked as an intern at SHU after graduating, was knifed alongside life-long friend Michael Callaghan, 23, who was also seriously injured.

Jacob Billington, from Sheffield, was stabbed to death in Birmingham on a night out

McLeod continued to bring terror to the city centre by brutally attacking five other people while he “smirked” and remained “calm” as he picked off people at random.

He had previously expressed to doctors “dark and sinister thoughts about killing” and heard voices in his head saying: “Kill 'em, stab 'em”.

Despite this, he was released from prison into the community with no support just months before he committed the atrocious attacks.

Jacob's parents have since spoke of their anger that such a dangerous offender was allowed to roam the streets before their son came “face-to-face with evil”.

Today he was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum of 21 years. He was also made the subject of a section 45 hospital order.

Sentencing him, Judge Edward Pepperall said: “Just after midnight on September 6, 2020 you were wandering the streets of Birmingham intent on killing one or more persons.

“Your victims were variously enjoying nights out or returning from work, they gave you no offence, and they were chosen at random.

“On a number of occasions, you asked for a cigarette or light in an apparent pretence to get close to a potential victim before striking.

“You used significant force as you stabbed your victims. Wherever possible you aimed your knives at victim necks.

“Over the course of your murderous rampage you killed one man, left another woman fighting for their lives and wounded five others.

“They they were your direct victims but your actions had a profound effect on dozens of lives.”

After he was caged, police released harrowing CCTV footage of each attack showing McLeod attacking strangers as he stalked the city looking for victims.

In heartbreaking victim impact statements Jacob's family questioned how McLeod was allowed to roam the streets of Birmingham unsupervised.

Mum Joanne said: “I want to know why this happened, when Jacob was just walking down the street.

“I will never have my son back. My heart is completely broken.

“I am haunted about how he died, how terrified he must have been. This tortures me every time I close my eyes.

“Many agencies in this case knew what a danger this man posed.”

“My son bled to death at the hands of someone well-known to many agencies.”

Dad Keith added: “When his friends encountered McLeod, they came face-to-face with evil.

“McLeod isn't the victim, my son is.

“I had to tell my dad, Jacob’s grandfather, that Jacob had died. My dad died six weeks later.”

Keith then turned to McLeod and angrily said: “That knife you stuck into Jacob, you stuck into my dad too.”