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Man found guilty of murdering passenger on Surrey train

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A man who stabbed an IT consultant 18 times after an argument over aisle blocking on a Surrey train has been found guilty of murder.

Darren Pencille, 36, launched an “unrelenting” and “savage” attack on Lee Pomeroy, 51, after a heated argument in front of the victim’s 14-year-old son.

Other travellers on the Guildford to London service in January said they were horrified when Pencille produced a knife and repeatedly stabbed the unarmed man.

The defendant, who declined to give evidence at his Old Bailey trial, had admitted having a knife but denied murder, claiming he had acted in self defence against the victim.

Still image taken from CCTV footage of Darren Pencille boarding the train at Guildford.

Still image taken from CCTV footage of Darren Pencille boarding the train at Guildford. Photograph: British Transport Police/PA

However, jurors heard how Pencille had a history of violence, having stabbed a flatmate in the neck over a minor disagreement in 2010 and threatening to kill a staff member at a mental health hostel in June last year. The jury deliberated for more than 19 hours before finding Pencille, of no fixed abode, guilty of murder.

His girlfriend, Chelsea Mitchell, 28, of Farnham, Surrey, was found guilty by a majority of 11-1 of helping him evade police after the attack.

After the conviction, DCI Sam Blackburn, of the British Transport Police, described Pencille as “devious and dangerous”.

“Quite clearly with his previous convictions, where he also stabbed another man in the neck, and his propensity for carrying knives, he showed his dangerous, aggressive nature and that he wasn’t afraid to use that knife on that train on 4 January,” Blackburn said.

Pomeroy had boarded the train at London Road, Guildford, for a day out in London with his son before his 52nd birthday. The pair got on the same coach as Pencille and made their way down the aisle, the court heard.

Jurors heard they may have been “blocking” Pencille’s way, prompting the response: “Ignorance is bliss.”

An argument erupted, with Pencille swearing at Pomeroy and calling him a “pussy”. Pencille shouted: “You touch me, you touch me and you see what happens at the next stop.”

Pomeroy was said to have demanded an apology, saying: “You should not have humiliated me in front of my kid.” At one point, Pencille was heard to say on his mobile phone: “I’m going to kill this man,” the court heard.

As Pomeroy remonstrated, Pencille swung the knife and plunged it into his neck, cutting through the jugular vein.

The prosecutor Jake Hallam QC had told jurors: “Eyewitnesses saw what they thought was the two men trading punches. They were half right. They saw Lee Pomeroy punching the first defendant, defending himself, having been stabbed in the neck by him.

“But the first defendant wasn’t punching back, he was stabbing. Again and again and again.”

Pencille got off at the next station, leaving Pomeroy fatally injured with 18 knife wounds to his neck, torso, thigh and arm. Mitchell picked up the defendant and bought hair clippers and razors for him to change his appearance, jurors heard.

Chelsea Mitchell arriving at the Old Bailey.

Chelsea Mitchell arriving at the Old Bailey. Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA

Jurors were told Pencille, who has paranoid schizophrenia, had been seen by psychiatrists since 2004 but had not taken any anti-psychotic medication at the time of the attack.

His mother, Ingrid Robertson, told jurors: “He always thought people were looking at him or wanted to do something to him.”

After the earlier incidents of violence, Pencille had pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm in February 2010 and common assault in June 2018.

Last month, while Pencille was in jail awaiting trial, Mitchell sent him a Father’s Day card in the name of their stillborn son, in breach of her bail conditions.

In the note, she told him: “I miss you so much, everything is falling apart. Losing everyone I love and all I want is my family back.”

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