Man stabbed woman to death in Exeter after telling medics he would kill someone, court told

<span>Lorna England was killed after going out to buy some flour in February last year, the court heard.</span><span>Photograph: Devon and Cornwall police</span>
Lorna England was killed after going out to buy some flour in February last year, the court heard.Photograph: Devon and Cornwall police

A man stabbed a 74-year-old stranger to death in a Devon park three hours after telling doctors he would kill someone when they refused to section him, a jury has heard.

Cameron Davis stabbed Lorna England in the heart and neck as she walked home from the shops in Exeter. When he was arrested, Davis told police: “I warned you … why didn’t they listen to me at the hospital?”

Davis, 31, has admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. A psychiatrist for his defence team concluded he had a mental illness at the time, schizoaffective disorder, the jury at Exeter crown court heard.

But the prosecution claims drugs and alcohol abuse turned him into a “manipulative and angry man” and he should be found guilty of murder.

Joanna Martin KC, prosecuting, said England was a fit woman who liked to get her 10,000 steps a day in. On 18 February last year she went to buy some flour, leaving her husband of 52 years, David, at home. He usually prepared a cup of tea for her return.

Martin said: “It was a perfectly normal day. What followed was something that no one could contemplate could happen on that crisp February afternoon.”

After leaving a supermarket, England cut across Ludwell Valley Park where Davis attacked her with a knife he had just bought in the same store. He slashed her across the neck and plunged the blade 12cm into her chest and heart. She had serious cuts to a hand where she had attempted to defend herself.

Alerted by her cries, a passerby went to help her while emergency services arrived but she died at the scene.

Martin said Davis was known to the police, mental health services and had spent time in prison. She said he had been homeless and at the start of last year was living in temporary housing association accommodation in Exmouth.

In January 2023, he told a support worker he would kill himself or someone else. He went to a police station and was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital. Two psychiatrists examined him and said he did not need to be detained.

A few days later he told his support worker he would “bash her head in”. He was seen by members of the community health team, who also said he did not need to be sectioned.

On the morning of the killing, Davis called the police and said he would burn his flat down if he was not arrested. When emergency services arrived, he told them he would kill a “random person” if he was not detained and was taken back to the Royal Devon and Exeter.

He was seen by mental health specialists and again said he was going to kill someone, but was discharged.

He left hospital at 12.49pm, bought two bottles of vodka and the kitchen knife and waited in the park, where he killed England at about 3.55pm. He dropped the knife in a small river, removed his hoodie, went drinking and called his mother.

When he was picked up in Exeter city centre, he told police: “I fucking warned you. None of you … listened.”

The trial continues.