Exeter man convicted of murder after stabbing pensioner to death in park

  • Watch our report from Bob Cruwys

A man who stabbed a pensioner to death in a country park has been found guilty of murder.

Cameron Davis killed 74-year-old Lorna England, whom he did not know, as she walked across Ludwell Valley Park in Exeter on the afternoon of Saturday 18 February 2023.

He cut her throat and stabbed her through the heart with a kitchen knife which he had bought within minutes of being released from a mental health assessment at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital (RD&E).

He had been taken there by police after he threatened to set fire to his supported accommodation in Exmouth in the early hours of the morning.

Davis told health professionals that he would carry out a random killing if he was discharged from hospital but was warned that it would be a premeditated attack if he did so.

He responded by saying the police could never pin anything on him, Exeter Crown Court was told.

This video contains distressing images
  • Police body worn video of the moment Cameron Davis is arrested

He blamed the police and hospital for releasing him when he was arrested, saying: "I warned you. Why didn’t they listen to me at hospital?

"The people at hospital should pay for this. I cried out for help."

Davis, 31, of Exeter Road in Exmouth, denied murder but had admitted manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, a plea which was not accepted by the prosecution.

He was found guilty of murder by a jury at Exeter Crown Court on Tuesday 9 July.

Cameron Davis

Background to the case

Miss Jo Martin, KC, prosecuting, told the court that Mrs England left home to walk to Lidl to buy flour on the afternoon of 18 February, leaving her husband David, to whom she had been married for 52 years, waiting for her at home.

She was killed on a path in woodland by Davis, who had been wandering around at the back of the Wonford Sports Centre for more than half an hour while drinking vodka.

She suffered a non-fatal wound to her neck, a fatal wound to her chest and defensive wounds on her hands.

The attack was witnessed by a dog walker who at first thought she saw two people dancing but then realised it was one blocking the other’s path.

She heard Mrs England cry out and fall to the ground.

Davis took her phone and told the witness, in a matter-of-fact way, that the injured woman had suffered a fit and she needed to call an ambulance.

He dropped the knife in a brook, the phone nearby, and a hoodie as he walked out of the park onto Hazel Road.

Cameron Davis purchased this kitchen knife just before the attack

The court was told that Davis was living in temporary accommodation provided by a housing association, having been homeless in Exeter when he moved there from Bournemouth.

On January 23, he asked to talk to his support workers because his mental health was deteriorating, saying he would either hurt himself or someone else.

He was assessed by two psychiatrists on January 28, who both decided he did not need to be sectioned.

Davis began expressing his love for his support worker between February 9 and 16 and was seen by the mental health team, who decided he did not need to be sectioned.

He was then given seven days’ notice to leave his accommodation.

He told officers and ambulance crew he would commit a crime if he was not detained.

Miss Martin said: “He said he was going to kill someone if he was released that day.

"He said he had committed crimes in the past and always got away with it. He repeated that if he was discharged he would kill a random person.”

  • Cameron Davis was spotted on CCTV after the attack

Ms Martin said Davis called police at 4.41am on the morning of February 18 – the day he attacked Mrs England – and threatened to take his own life in a fire at his accommodation unless he was arrested.

Paramedics and police attended the property, where they found Davis sitting on the pavement outside.

“He said he was going to kill someone if he was discharged that day,” Ms Martin told the court.

“He said he had committed other crimes in the past and always got away with it. He repeated that if he was discharged, he would kill a random person.”

Davis was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where he was told that if he did anything it would be a pre-meditated crime.

Two psychiatrists discussed whether to section Davis and decided that he did not need to be admitted to hospital.

He later bought vodka and a knife at a Lidl supermarket and went to Ludwell Valley Park, where he fatally attacked Mrs England and took her mobile phone.

After leaving the park, Davis went to shops and two pubs in Exeter before being spotted on CCTV sitting on the pavement in the city centre at 9.30pm.

He was arrested on suspicion of murder, telling police: “I f***** warned you c****, that’s why I f****** done it. I didn’t want to but none of you f****** c**** listened.”

The trial also heard from two psychiatrists – one who said Davis had a schizoaffective disorder and a second who said he had a personality disorder which made him “manipulative and angry” when combined with drug and alcohol abuse.