A 44-year-old man has been charged with the murder of 87-year-old Thomas O’Halloran who was stabbed in the chest while on his mobility scooter in London.
Lee Byer, of Southall, west London, appeared at Willesden Magistrates’ Court on Friday morning. He was arrested in Southall, west London, early on Thursday.
Mr Byer, of no fixed abode, stood in the dock wearing grey prison-issue tracksuit bottoms and a T-shirt with a sweater tied around his waist.
He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth while Malik Aldeiri, defending, made no application for bail.
Byer was not asked to enter pleas to charges of murder and possession of an offensive weapon - a large knife - and was remanded in custody by Deputy District Judge Ross Cohen ahead of his next appearance at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.
Mr O’Halloran travelled around 75 yards on his scooter desperately looking for help after he was stabbed in the chest in Greenford around 4pm on Tuesday.
The elderly man, who was known to locals as a popular busker, was given emergency first aid by police officers until London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance arrived but was declared dead at the scene.
Officers responded to the crime scene on Cayton Road in Greenford after the pensioner flagged down a member of the public for help.
One of his friends said he was coming back from Perivale to play his accordion to make some money for his family before he was stabbed to death.
A neighbour of Mr O’Halloran, Tharaka Gunawardana, told The Independent: “He was such a sweet old man. My kids love him so much. He was always making everyone happy. He used to honk his scooter horn whenever he saw my kids.
“I am really sad about this news.”
Mr O’Halloran was originally from Ennistymon, Co Clare, in the west of Ireland, and he is survived by members of his family including his sister, two brothers, nieces and nephews.
He was nicknamed the “music man” by locals because of his passion for busking. He garnered attention on social media after his videos of his performances to raise money for Ukrainians went viral months before his death.
The video clips from June showed Mr O’Halloran smiling and playing his accordion on his mobility scooter, with a makeshift blue and yellow collection box strapped to his frame.
The death of the musician shocked the community back in Clare, where he was also well known. Local Fine Gael senator Martin Conway said Mr O’Halloran‘s death has left his home community in Ennistymon and north Clare in “deep shock and sadness” as he was a well-known figure and often busked for charity.
Former Labour MP Stephen Pound also offered his condolences over the death of the pensioner, saying he was an ex-constituent whom he knew from the busker’s regular public presence in the area.
“Tom was a real local character. He would be outside Greenford station playing the accordion, occasionally the harmonica,” he told GB News.
“He was a sweet, lovely man... He was well-liked and well-loved, but, above all, he was one of those characters who would cement an area.”