Suspect ‘returned home’ during attack spree as inquest opens into Sheffield man’s death

An alleged killer returned to his home during a series of stabbings which left a Sheffield man dead and two others critically ill, an inquest heard.

By Michael Broomhead
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:49 am

Birmingham Coroner's Court was told Zephaniah McLeod has been charged with the murder of Jacob Billington, aged 23, and seven counts of attempted murder.

Mr Billington, originally from Liverpool, was a former geography student at Sheffield Hallam University and returned to work there last year.

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Jacob Billington.

Detective Superintendent Samantha Ridding, of West Midlands Police, told an inquest opening on Monday that Mr Billington was fatally stabbed in Irving Street, Birmingham, at around 1.50am on September 6.

Giving evidence by video link, the officer told the hearing: “A male from Birmingham, Zephaniah McLeod, who is 27, has been charged with the murder of Jacob Billington and the attempted murder of seven other people.

“Two of these victims remain critically ill in hospital.”

Mr Billington was in the city on a night out with friends when the group was approached by a male, Det Supt Ridding added.

She told senior coroner Louise Hunt: “An unprovoked attack was then launched at Jacob and his friends, during which Jacob received his fatal stab wound.”

The hearing was told McLeod, of Nately Grove, Selly Oak, was alleged to have ‘left to go to his home’ following two initial incidents and ‘returned to the area of the attacks’ before Mr Billington's death.

Adjourning the inquest, Mrs Hunt said: “Clearly, given that a charge has been brought in relation to the death of Jacob Billington, I will now be adjourning this inquest pending the outcome of criminal proceedings.

“I would like to take this opportunity to offer my condolences to his family and friends.”

After Mr Billington died, his family said in a statement: “Jacob was the light of our life and we have been devastated by his loss.”

West Midlands Police declared a major incident after victims were injured in five locations across the city centre, including Livery Street and Hurst Street.

The force has previously been criticised for alleged delays in responding to the attacks, which its chief constable condemned as ‘ill-informed critique’.

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