Stabbing in Birmingham: Mother of victim Jacob Billington ‘haunted’ by his death when murderer Zephaniah McLeod is convicted | UK News

A mother is “haunted” by the death of her “bright, naughty and talented” son, who was killed during a stabbing – and reveals how she “did not get a chance to say goodbye”.

Jacob Billington, 23, “bled to death on the street” after being fatally wounded in the neck and shoulder by paranoid schizophrenic Zephaniah McLeod during a series of “brutal” knife attacks in central Birmingham.

McLeod, 28, has admitted manslaughter with less responsibility for the killing of the musician who worked at Sheffield Hallam University, in the early hours of September 6 last year.

Billington’s mother, Joanne, made an emotional statement at the start of a two-day sentencing hearing in Birmingham Crown Court.

She described how she is “haunted by how he died, how scared he must have been”.

Picture:
Zephaniah McLeod admitted the murder of Mr. Billington with less responsibility

“This tortures me every time I close my eyes,” she said.

“I did not get a chance to say goodbye to my son – he was dead until he knew something was wrong.”

McLeod has also admitted that he was targeting seven other people during the vandalism, including Billington’s friend and bandmate, Michael Callaghan, 24.

He was left seriously injured after being stabbed in the neck, leaving him partially paralyzed and causing massive blood loss, which triggered a stroke.

The couple were on their way back to their hotel after celebrating another friend’s birthday.

Callaghan, a medical engineer, told of his grief over losing his friend.

“Ever since McLeod murdered my friend … and stabbed me in the neck, I often wish he had managed to kill me and still does sometimes,” he said.

McLeod has previously acknowledged four counts of attempted murder and three separate offenses of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2013, but “never” received proper treatment, it sounded from the hearing.

McLeod, who has previously been convicted of robbery, assault, supply of drugs and possession of an imitation firearm, had not been in contact with psychiatric health services since being released from a three-year prison sentence in April 2020.

Psychiatric staff struggled to track him down after his release and were “not informed of his whereabouts,” a psychiatrist told the court.

They tracked him down only after receiving a referral from McLeod’s GP.

He was “unattended” in the community – despite a history of refusing to take his medication in prison.

Michael Callaghan pictured before the attack
Picture:
Billington’s friend, Michael Callaghan, was seriously injured

McLeod also reported that he had heard voices saying “kill them, stab, stab them, they’re talking about you”, in 2018, the court was told.

He failed to attend a psychiatric assessment just four days before the killings.

Opening the case, prosecutor Karim Khalil QC said: “He armed himself with two large knives and aimed at parts of the body, namely the head, neck and chest, where the most serious injuries were likely to be caused.

“We suggest that the fact that some victims sustained physical injuries that were not as serious was purely coincidental, rather than by design.”

After attacking three of his victims, McLeod of Nately Grove, Selly Oak, Birmingham discarded a knife before taking a taxi home to pick up another 20cm blade and then returning to the city center.

One of Mr. Billington’s younger sisters, Abbie, criticized the authorities for allowing “unstable” McLeod to be “let loose”.

“How has a man so unstable, in a mental crisis, been able to walk the streets with a weapon?” she said.

Meanwhile, his father, Keith, remembered his son’s “humor” and “charm”.

He described holding his hand on the first day of school and watching Everton play football together.

He said his son, who lived in Crosby, Merseyside, had stood “face to face with evil”.

And he criticized McLeod for “bringing terror to the streets of Birmingham” and “portraying himself as a victim of the system”.

“This man has no place in society, he is clearly one of the most dangerous people who have walked the streets of this city.”

The hearing continues on Wednesday.

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