UK

Man who murdered stranger in park jailed for minimum of 28 years

Cameron Davis stabbed grandmother-of-four Lorna England to death

Lorna England was described as a beloved mother, wife and grandmother
Lorna England was described as a beloved mother, wife and grandmother (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

The family of a grandmother who was stabbed to death by a stranger described him as a “cowardly, brutal monster” as he was jailed for life with a minimum term of 28 years.

Cameron Davis, 31, fatally attacked retired civil servant Lorna England, 74, as she walked home through Ludwell Valley Park in the Wonford area of Exeter, Devon, on the afternoon of February 18 last year.

Hours before the murder, Davis told medical staff and paramedics that he would kill a stranger if he was not admitted to hospital.

Exeter Crown Court heard two psychiatrists and an advanced mental health practitioner assessed Davis and concluded he did not need treatment, and did not meet the criteria to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

He was released from hospital and bought a knife, vodka and sweets at a supermarket before going to a wooded area of the park where he stabbed Mrs England to death as she walked home.

Davis pleaded guilty to manslaughter by diminished responsibility but was convicted of murder following a trial at Exeter Crown Court.

The judge, Mrs Justice Stacey, jailed Davis for life and ordered him to serve a minimum of 28 years in prison.

She told him: “On February 18, you decided to kill a stranger if you didn’t get your own way. You took your time, selecting a large boning knife from Lidl. You drank vodka, smoked cigarettes and ate sweets.

“After arguing with your mother on the phone, you set across Ludwell Valley Park and went to a quiet wooded area and selected a lone female on her way home.

“It was a planned and premeditated attack. It was the terrible fate of Lorna to be walking through that part of the park at the time you were also there.”

Cameron Davis before he attacked Lorna England
Cameron Davis before he attacked Lorna England (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

The judge described how Mrs England, a grandmother-of-four and mother-of-two, had bravely tried to defend herself as Davis stabbed her neck and chest, but died a short time later.

After killing Mrs England, Davis “sauntered” away, discarding the knife and Mrs England’s phone before going to pubs, drinking and taking cocaine until his mother refused to transfer him more money, the judge said.

“You chose to commit this shocking act to punish the hospital, the mental health services, the police and all the people who had tried to help and support you in anger because you didn’t get what you wanted,” she told him.

“You blame others and seek to shift responsibility for your own actions. You were wholly responsible for Lorna’s death and no-one else but you.”

The judge described how Davis had been “well supported” by emergency services, local authorities and voluntary agencies since moving to Exeter from Bournemouth in 2021.

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 called police on 999 at 4.41am on 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.

“You imply that it was somehow their fault for not stopping you,” the judge said. “But on the information they had on February 18, you could not be arrested in anticipation that you might commit some kind of offence.

“This is not a case of society being failed by police or public services.”

Paramedics attended and found Davis sitting on the pavement outside. He threatened to kill someone if he was discharged.

He was taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where two psychiatrists and an advanced mental health practitioner decided that he did not need to be admitted.

In victim personal statements read to the court, Mrs England’s family described her as a devoted family member who kept physically and mentally fit and active.

Her husband, David England, 83, described how they had met 54 years ago and were “soul mates”.

Lorna England was described as a devoted family member
Lorna England was described as a devoted family member (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

Directly addressing the defendant, he said: “She must have been so scared and filled with dreadful terror at seeing you with a knife in your hand.

“I hate to think what she must have gone through and the last thoughts that would have been in her head as she tried to defend herself. This constantly plays in my mind, how someone could be so evil.

“It breaks my heart that the last face Lorna saw was yours – a cowardly, brutal monster.”

He added: “Lorna’s life was extinguished by you and your life will continue. Hopefully, your life will not be an easy one.

“You, Cameron Davis, will always be labelled a granny killer. You murdered Lorna and forever broke the hearts of her family.

“Lorna had so much to live for and because of your uncontrollable temper and rage, Cameron Davis, Lorna is now gone forever.”

In a statement read to the court, Mrs England’s four grandchildren described how she was “so proud” of them and loved being their grandmother.

They told how she would take them to Beefeater restaurants on their birthdays, join them on the high ropes at Go Ape, play mini golf on days out and share fish and chips on the seafront.

“We never even got to say goodbye,” they added.

Mrs England’s daughter Jackie Baxter described the devastating impact of her murder on the family.

She directly addressed Davis, saying: “Cameron Davis, I would like to know what you said to my Mum that day. Why did you murder my Mum?

“What gives you the right to take someone else’s life? How would you feel if someone murdered your Mum?

“What horrifies me the most is that in Mum’s final moments of her life, the last thing she heard, smelt and saw was you. You left her to die. It torments me thinking how scared she would have been when she encountered you.”

She also described Davis as “a monster and a murderer” and added: “When the time comes and you are considered by the Parole Board to be released from prison, I hope you will not be released. You don’t deserve the freedom.

“As long as I am still breathing, I will fight for you to stay in prison to pay for your actions, for what you did to Mum and us.”

Davis was arrested by police after being spotted on CCTV sitting on a pavement in the city centre on the evening of February 18.

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.”