Birmingham stab attacks murder-accused appears in court


A 27-year-old man accused of murder and seven counts of attempted murder after a series of street stabbings has made a brief court appearance.

Zephaniah McLeod obscured his face with hands during the majority of the hearing via a videolink to Birmingham's Perry Barr police custody block.

Birmingham Magistrates' Court was told McLeod is accused of murdering 23-year-old Sheffield Hallam University worker and drummer Jacob Billington, from Crosby, Merseyside, in the early hours of Sunday.

West Midlands Police declared a major incident after Mr Billington was killed and seven other people, including his old school friend and band-mate Michael Callaghan, were stabbed during a string of attacks in the city centre spanning some 90 minutes.

Mr Billington was among a group of pals enjoying a night out while visiting a friend studying in the city.

A post-mortem examination concluded he died from a stab wound to the neck.

Birmingham stabbings
Birmingham stabbings

His close friend Mr Callaghan, also 23, who was attacked in Irving Street, remains in a critical condition, while a 22-year-old woman attacked in nearby Hurst Street, is critical but stable.

Another man, aged 30, remains in a serious condition in hospital, while four others have been discharged.

During McLeod's five-minute appearance before two magistrates on Wednesday, the names of the seven people the alleged killer is accused of attempting to murder were read to him.

They are: Dimitar Bachvarov, Migle Dolobauskaite, Thomas Glassey, Michael Callaghan, Shane Rowley, Rhys Cummings and Ryan Bowers.

As well as speaking to confirm he could hear the proceedings, the defendant confirmed his date-of-birth after being asked several times by the court clerk.

McLeod appeared over a videolink because of routine Covid-19 safety measures.

Birmingham stabbings
Birmingham stabbings

He could be seen seated in a chair wearing a light grey T-shirt, with an appropriate adult close by.

Throughout the hearing he rubbed his face, forehead and ear with his hands.

Adjourning the proceedings, chairman of the bench David Warner told the court: "Before we retire, I would just like to express the court's sympathy with everybody who has been affected by these tragic events."