Killer who escaped London mental health unit found after four-day manhunt

An undated police photo of Philip Theophilou next to a portrait shot of Simon Breed
Philip Theophilou (L) stabbed Simon Breed (R) to death in 2004 - PA

A convicted killer who went on the run from a London mental health facility has been found after a four-day manhunt.

Philip Theophilou, 54, absconded from the building in Homerton on Sunday and reappeared in the early hours of Thursday morning at a hospital in south London, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed.

Theophilou, who stabbed his neighbour to death in 2004, was detained and taken back to the John Howard Centre.

The Met had warned the public not to approach him, fearing that he might pose a danger as he was without his medication.

He admitted to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at the Old Bailey in 2005 after stabbing Simon Breed, 51, six times with a kitchen knife.

Theophilou had been lying in wait outside the father-of-two’s home in Alexandra Park, north London, and was not taking his schizophrenia medication at the time.

In January 2003, Theophilou had caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to Mr Breed’s house and car with a meat cleaver.

Theophilou is seen wearing a grey jumper, black jacket and black hat
Philip Theophilou before he went missing on Sunday, in a CCTV picture issued by police

The attack followed building work started by Mr Breed shortly after he moved in 2002, which had caused a crack in the next-door house that Theophilou shared with his parents, the Old Bailey heard.

He was sectioned under the Mental Health Act but then released from St Ann’s Hospital in August 2003.

There were no problems until eight months later in April 2004, when Mr Breed was attacked and killed at night as he returned from playing at a folk club.

Theophilou was sent to Broadmoor Hospital without limit of time under the Mental Health Act.

The East London NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the medium-secure John Howard Centre, confirmed Theophilou “has now been returned”.

NHS England says medium-secure mental health units “care for and treat patients who are a serious risk to others”.

An information guide produced by NHS England reads: “These patients need physical security to prevent them from escaping.” It adds that the facilities “focus on helping patients get better and keeping others safe”.

The John Howard Centre is made up of eight male wards, one female ward and one specialist secure ward for men with learning disabilities.