Knifeman who killed Jacob Billington is given a life sentence

Knifeman who killed Jacob Billington is given a life sentence

by Tom Martin (November 2021)

A MAN who went on a stabbing spree in Birmingham, killing 23-year-old Crosby man Jacob Billington,  has been sentenced to at least 21 years in prison.

Mr Billington died and seven other people were injured in five separate incidents carried out in 90 minutes across the city on September 6, 2020.

Zephaniah McLeod, 29, previously admitted manslaughter and four counts of attempted murder.

He was sentenced on Thursday, November 18 and Judge Justice Pepperall said he would be detained at Ashworth Hospital for “as long as necessary” and would see out the remainder of his term in prison.

McLeaod 29, of Nately Grove, Selly Oak, had been suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was well-known to mental health services at the time of the apparently random attacks.

Jacob was stabbed in Irving Street while enjoying a night out with school friends.

A post-mortem examination found the Sheffield Hallam University library intern died of a stab wound to the neck.

Jacob’s mother Joanne Billington said there were still many “unanswered questions” about various state agencies prior treatment and monitoring of McLeod, and believes “mistakes were made.”

In an impact statement read to the court she said she hoped McLeod's care would be “properly looked into and that all involved remember my son bled to death in the street at the hands of someone well-known to many agencies.”

Seven others were hurt in the cluster of attacks across the city centre including Mr Billington’s old school friend and bandmate Michael Callaghan, also from Crosby, who is still unable to move his left arm, but his recovery is continuing.

In a statement after his death, Mr Billington’s family said he was “the light of our life” and his death had devastated them.

Jacob and Michael had been friends after attending Great Crosby Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic College.

They then attended university together in Sheffield and formed a band called The Vedetts, along with some other friends.

Jacob had been working at Sheffield Hallam University while Michael, an engineering graduate, had recently started a job with the NHS in Merseyside.

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