A MAN has appeared in court today charged with murder over a knife rampage in Birmingham that left one dead and seven injured.
Zephaniah McLeod, 27, was remanded in custody following a videolink hearing at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
He is accused of murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
McLeod, who spoke only to confirm his personal details during a five-minute appearance before two magistrates today, is due to appear at Birmingham Crown Court tomorrow.
McLeod was arrested in the early hours of yesterday morning in a dawn raid at his home in Selly Oak, West Mids.
It came around 28 hours after he allegedly unleashed into a knife attack in Birmingham city centre on Sunday.
McLeod has now been charged with murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
A statement from West Midlands Police said: “We’ve charged a man with the murder of Jacob Billington, who was one of eight people stabbed in Birmingham city centre in the early hours of Sunday.
“Zephaniah McLeod, 27, of Birmingham, is also accused of the attempted murder of the seven other victims of the knife attacks.
“McLeod will appear before Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday morning.
“The police statement said a post mortem examination concluded that Mr Billington died as a result of a stab wound to the neck.
Three people arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender were released pending further investigation.
Jacob Billington, 23, was stabbed to death while visiting a school friend with pals from his home in Liverpool.
His friend Michael Callaghan, also 23, was knifed in the neck and is in a critical condition after surgery.
Jacob’s heartbroken family and friends have paid tribute, saying: “Jacob was the light of our life and we have been devastated by his loss.
“He was a funny, caring and wonderful person who was loved by every single person he met.
“He lit up every room with his boundless energy and witty humour and the loss of such a special person will be felt by all who knew him for years to come.”
A man and a woman, 30 and 22, are also fighting for life in hospital after suffering serious stab wounds in the frenzy.
Four others, three men and a woman, were also injured.
Stunned neighbours told yesterday how their quiet cul-de-sac was swamped by police as the suspect was arrested in a dramatic dawn raid.
Police burst into the house screaming “get down, get down” at 4am before dragging the “squirming” suspect out in his pyjamas.
One neighbour told The Sun Online: “I heard a bang at 4am and looked out the window and the whole cul de sac was filled with unmarked police cars.
“There were lots of police officers with guns
“I heard the police shouting ‘get down, get down’ and telling residents to stay indoors on the megaphone.”
Police believe victims were targeted randomly in the frenzy.
Horrified witnesses said the suspect confronted a victim about chatting to a girl – before suddenly plunging a knife into his head.
Others who saw the violence said the man was seen walking the streets and seemed “chilled” – telling one man who confronted him: “Whatever”.
Chilling CCTV showed the attacker strolling through Birmingham in a dark hoody as he unleashed the crazed knife attack.
The horror unfolded over 90 minutes from around 12.30am on Sunday morning.
But questions are now being asked over why the knifeman wasn’t stopped during the spree.
Khalid Mahmood, Labour MP for Perry Barr, said: “We’ve got to look at the fact he had two hours to run around the city centre, which has a huge amount of CCTV cameras in place.
“Where was the monitoring? Both the public and police were put at further risk. There is a person dead. How was this man able to go on a two-hour spate?
“Potentially, had the alarm been set up early enough, the individual who is now deceased could have been saved and it’s important we look at that.”
While Jay Singh Sohal, the Conservative candidate for West Midlands police and crime commissioner, said: “I find it remarkable the police didn’t immediately release the most important thing and give a description for what they are looking for.
“That delay means this guy could be anywhere.”
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson told Times Radio there would be an examination of police performance following the stabbings.
Asked whether it seemed extraordinary an attacker could go on a rampage for almost two hours in a major city, he said: “It does, and that is a question I will be asking once a person is in custody, then we need to reflect on the whole incident.
“What we want to know, the police will look at this closely, we want to know that, if something similar happened again, how we avoid it if we can.
“Yes there will be questions asked, there will be, if you like, debriefings on the whole thing and if necessary we will have to look at any different approach we take to policing.
“Everything will be done, there will be a thorough investigation, and we will look for any lessons that need to be learned, we will learn those lessons.
“But as I’ve seen up to now the police have acted very swiftly and very professionally.”
But he defended the delay in issuing CCTV images of the suspect – arguing cops had to “trawl through thousands of hours” of footage.