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Alleged murderer accused of killing man with hammer in cemetery had 'deep interest' in 'extreme violence', court hears

An alleged murderer with a "deep interest" in extreme violence battered a man to death with a claw hammer in a cemetery, a court has heard.

Erik Feld is alleged to have struck Ranjith Kankanamalage repeatedly in the face and head in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, east London, in August 2021.

The 50-year-old's body was discovered hours later by a member of the public.

A post-mortem examination identified 12 separate blows consistent with being inflicted with a claw hammer, as well as defensive injuries.

At the Old Bailey on Wednesday, prosecutor Paul Cavin KC told jurors that Feld had a long-standing interest in "extreme violence".

Mr Kankanamalage's "catastrophic" injuries were so bad that paramedics at first thought they were gunshot wounds, the barrister added.

The defendant allegedly told a mental health assessor in 2017 that he used to go out "with a hammer, screwdriver or razor blades, hoping to catch someone unawares ... down alleys."

Feld also said that he sometimes went out with a weapon "for example a hammer" in case an "opportunity presented itself", the jury was told.

Mr Cavin said: "Obviously, the Crown say that is in fact what happened on the night in question."

The court was told Feld was arrested for waving a claw hammer outside a branch of Poundland, following an argument with a security guard who suspected him of shoplifting, two days after Mr Kankanamalage was killed.

When his Tower Hamlets home was searched by police, officers found three mallets and a sledgehammer, the jury heard.

Feld was released on bail after refusing to speak to officers or provide access to his mobile phone, the hearing was told.

Hammer and cut-throat razor 'found by defendant's pillow'

In January 2022, he was rearrested after DNA tests on Mr Kankanamalage's bloodstained nail clippings allegedly provided a match to the defendant.

A further search of Feld's flat uncovered another hammer and a cut-throat razor by his pillow, the prosecution alleged.

Mr Cavin told jurors: "As well as the DNA match, by the time of his second arrest and interview technicians had managed to break into the defendant's smartphone that had been seized back in August the year before, after his first arrest.

"A download of the contents indicated that the defendant had a deep interest in violence with the particular theme of attacks with hammers.

"In the weeks leading up to August 16, he had repeatedly visited websites that contained videos of people being attacked with hammers, some of whom were beaten to death."

An analyst also recovered two photographs of Feld posing with a claw hammer, the prosecutor said.

Investigators retraced Mr Kankanamalage's last movements on CCTV and he was last seen at 3.55am heading towards Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.

Footage also captured a figure - now accepted to be the defendant - walking away from the park at around 4.13am, and subsequently tracked to the road where Feld lived.

The prosecutor said: "It would be an incredible coincidence that of all the people that the deceased happened to come across at 4am in an east London park - and apparently decided to attack - he had the misfortune to have chosen a man with an unhealthy interest in the infliction of extreme violence particularly with a hammer, and who by chance was armed with a hammer that night."

The prosecutor told jurors that Feld admitted the killing but claimed it was in "lawful self defence".

Feld, of Tredegar Road, Tower Hamlets, denies murder and the trial continues.