A man accused of murdering a fellow train passenger was paranoid schizophrenic, had a fear of crowds and struggled on public transport, a court has heard.
Lee Pomeroy, 51, was stabbed by 36-year-old Darren Pencille five minutes after boarding a London-bound train at Guildford, Surrey, on January 4 with his 14-year-old son, the Old Bailey has heard.
Jurors have previously been told that a row erupted between the IT consultant and Pencille over the blocking of an aisle.
Ingrid Robertson, the defendant’s mother, told the court under questioning by Justin Rouse QC, representing Pencille, that when her son was in his 20s she was told he was paranoid schizophrenic.
She said he had been admitted to hospital on a few occasions, had a “fear of crowds”, and struggled on public transport – sometimes ringing her in a panic saying he “needed to get off quickly”.
“He always thought people were looking at him or wanted to do something to him,” Ms Robertson told the court.
Witness Kayleigh Carter was asked by Mr Rouse whether Mr Pomeroy had been picking on his client.
Seated behind a screen as she recalled the incident, she said: “I wouldn’t say picking on him, but he was taunting him.”
Ms Carter told Jacob Hallam QC, prosecuting, she remembered one of the men saying ‘all I did was be in the way’, which she thought was petty.
She told the jury the two men were talking at first, but not very loudly and directly to each other, adding: “It seemed like they had a tiff.”
Ms Carter said Pencille was angry but she did not sense the same emotions from Mr Pomeroy, adding that he was more “stern, stubborn and patronising”.
She said hearing Mr Pomeroy say “I have never dealt with someone with special needs before” was the first thing she heard that was “really fuelling the anger”.
She said Pencille then said: “I am hearing voices right now,” which panicked her.
Ms Carter said Pencille picked up a phone and she clearly heard him say: “I am going to kill this man,” adding that she did not think the call was real as it went through quite quickly.
She added that both men were saying they were going to fight at the next station, and eventually became “really up and personal” and “neither of them were backing down”.
She said she heard Pencille call Mr Pomeroy a racist, and he responded by saying that if anyone was a racist it was Pencille.
Ms Carter said she saw Pencille strike Mr Pomeroy first, telling the court: “I saw blood straight away, I panicked after that because I had to run through it.”
Heading into another carriage and past the two men, she said blood ended up on her bag.
The court has previously heard how Mr Pomeroy, who was due to turn 52 the day after the “quick and frenzied attack”, was stabbed 18 times in 25 seconds.
Forensic pathologist Olaf Biedrzycki told the jury Mr Pomeroy had a number of knife injuries including a 10cm-deep stab wound, as well as defensive cuts to his hands and arms.
He said Mr Pomeroy had a 6cm-deep wound to the left side of his neck, with the knife cutting his jugular vein and carotid artery.
“That essentially means that you would have to have instant, immediate surgery in theatre to have any chance of surviving,” he said of the neck wound, adding how “moderate force” was used to inflict the stab injuries.
Afterwards, Pencille’s girlfriend, Chelsea Mitchell, 27, allegedly picked him up and bought hair clippers and razors for him to change his appearance.
Pencille, of no fixed address, denies murder, and Mitchell, of Farnham, Surrey, denies assisting an offender.
The trial continues.