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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Caroline Davies

London mobility scooter stabbing victim named as Thomas O’Halloran, 87

Thomas O’Halloran
Thomas O’Halloran was well known in the community and regularly played accordion to raise money for Ukrainian refugees, say residents. Photograph: PA

An elderly man fatally stabbed while riding his mobility scooter in west London has been named as Thomas O’Halloran.

Detectives said the 87-year-old was stabbed on Western Avenue in Greenford and managed to travel 75 yards on his scooter before asking a member of the public for help in nearby Runnymede Gardens.

Police released an image of a man seen running away from the scene armed with a knife, who they said they were “keen to identify as a matter urgency”. He was wearing grey shorts, a dark-coloured T-shirt, a white baseball cap and white patterned builder-style gloves.

DCI Jim Eastwood, who is leading the investigation, said: “We are keen to identify the man in the CCTV images as a matter of urgency. He is clearly a dangerous individual and people are advised not to approach him, but to call us immediately on 999 if they know him or have any information regarding his whereabouts.”

CCTV image of a man who police are keen to identify
CCTV image of a man who police say they are ‘keen to identify’. Photograph: PA

O’Halloran, understood to be a retired engineer, regularly busked with his accordion outside a local Tesco superstore and Greenford station, collecting money for charitable causes, including for Ukrainian refugees. One theory is he may have been followed by somebody who saw him collecting.

CCTV footage, believed to be from moments after the attack, shows him flagging down two passersby, having been apparently stabbed in an alleyway next to the A40.

One person who lives near the scene, Frasley Coutinho, said he saw the victim surrounded by a group of young boys. Coutinho said he caught some of the incident on a CCTV camera but it was obscured by a plant.

He said: “I saw a couple of people gathering around him and then he drove past and stopped further up, and then there was a group of young boys around him.”

The Metropolitan police west area commander, Ch Supt Sean Wilson, said: “Yesterday an 87-year-old grandfather on a mobility scooter had his life needlessly snatched away in a shocking act of unprovoked violence right here in Greenford. I understand that our community will quite rightly be shocked and appalled at this incident, as I am too.”

He said detectives were “working tirelessly to understand what has happened and to identify who is responsible for this horrific crime”. Police were following up a number of inquiries and a forensic examination was under way in the area.

Wilson appealed to the public for help, especially anyone with dashcam or cycle helmet footage.

“We believe that Mr O’Halloran was stabbed in Western Avenue shortly after 4pm yesterday, Tuesday 16 August, before managing to travel 75 yards or so on his mobility scooter to Runnymede Gardens where he flagged down a member of the public for help,” he said.

Extra officers are patrolling in the area. The scene was taped off as forensics officers in blue overalls examined the road in front of a row of semi-detached homes at the junction of Cayton Road and Runnymede Gardens, which runs next to the busy A40.

Customers and business owners in the small row of shops near Greenford station were shocked. “I saw the news and can’t believe it’s him,” said one. “Such a lovely, lovely man. Loved his accordion. And his scratchcards. Him and his wife were always buying scratchcards.”

Hitesh Patel, 62, a shop owner, said O’Halloran had a Ukraine flag on the front of his basket as he played his music. “It said ‘help for Ukraine’. He was a very good, kind man.”

John Robbins, 82, out walking in a small park near the scene, said: “You would see him regularly outside Tesco playing his accordion.”

Robbins and his neighbour Peter Banks, 94, said the incident would not deter them from their daily walk. “It used to be a very quiet area, but it’s all built up now,” said Robbins, who has lived there for 50 years. “There are yobs now riding around on their bikes,” he added.

His neighbour agreed, adding: “But there is no point worrying. If something is going to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Simran Advani, 25, a senior property manager who lives near where the stabbing took place, said she often saw an elderly man on his mobility scooter who “always used to smile”. “He was a nice old man. He often goes round the block, he always went on the road and not the pavement,” she said.

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