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.

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Police forensics officers gather evidence inside a cordon on Hurst Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - One man was killed and two people were critically injured during a "random" stabbing attack lasting several hours in Britain's second city of Birmingham, police said on Sunday. Detectives said they were hunting one suspect after being called to reports of stabbings at four separate locations in the city centre between 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and 2:30 am. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police forensics officers gather evidence on Hurst Walk, inside a cordon at Hurst Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - One man was killed and two people were critically injured during a "random" stabbing attack lasting several hours in Britain's second city of Birmingham, police said on Sunday. Detectives said they were hunting one suspect after being called to reports of stabbings at four separate locations in the city centre between 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) and 2:30 am. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police forensics officer gathers evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police forensic officer taking photographs in Hurst Street, in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
RETRANSMISSION CORRECTING HURST STREET TO HURST WALK Three police forensics officers at making way down Hurst Walk in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. Police are searching for one suspect following the stabbings in the city centre in which one man was killed and seven other people injured.
A police forensics officer in overalls (right), alongside a colleague, in Irving Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensics officer gathers evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police forensics officers gather evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Livery Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police gather evidence near to forensics tents and evidence markers inside a cordon on Irving Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A small forensics tent is seen at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Edmund Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Livery Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police officer stands near to a small forensics tent as he mans a cordon at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Police guard a cordon on Livery Street following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A police officer stands near to a small forensics tent as he mans a cordon at the junction of Church Street and Barwick Street, following a major stabbing incident in the centre of Birmingham, central England, on September 6, 2020. - British police declared a "major incident" early on September 6 after multiple people were stabbed in the centre of England's second city Birmingham. Violence broke out at about 12:30 am (2330 GMT Saturday) in and around the Arcadian Centre, a popular venue filled with restaurants, nightclubs and bars. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A police forensics officer holding a sealed container with a black handled knife inside, in Edmund Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensic officer looks under a small blue police tent covering an area of road in Irving Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensics officer taking photographs in Irving Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Police officers at a cordon in Hurst Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Two police forensics officers in Livery Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Forensics officers walk past a police officer directing a member of the public, inside the cordoned area in Barwick Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police officer at a cordon in Hurst Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A discarded blanket at the scene in Hurst Street, Birmingham, after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Two police forensics officers at the cordoned area in Barwick Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
Police officers at a cordon in Hurst Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
A police forensics officer looks under a small blue police tent covering an area of pavement in Livery Street in Birmingham after a number of people were stabbed in the city centre. West Midlands Police said they were called to reports of a stabbing at around 12.30am on Sunday and a number of other stabbings were reported in the area at around the same time.
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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
Jacob Billington was killed in a knife attack on Sunday (West Midlands Police/PA)

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
A forensics investigator outside a property in Selly Oak, Birmingham (Jacob King/PA)

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."

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