Cameron Davis guilty of 'random' Exeter murder after blaming medics

Cameron Davis has been found guilty of murder
-Credit: (Image: Devon & Cornwall Police)


A man who said he would kill a "random stranger" unless he got sectioned has been found guilty of murdering a 74-year-old woman in Exeter. Cameron Davis, 31, from Exmouth, stabbed Lorna England through the heart as she walked through Ludwell Valley Park on February 18, 2023.

Three hours earlier he had left the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital after being assessed for mental health treatment. When he was arrested later that evening in Exeter city centre he blamed medics for not listening to his warnings.

He said: “I f*****g warned you. Why didn’t they listen?”

Davis admitted manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility but denied murder. The main issue for the jury at Exeter Crown Court was the extent of his mental illness at the time he killed.

The prosecution said he was angry and manipulative, a drinker and drug-user, but not psychotic. The defence said he had a more severe schizoaffective disorder.

The jury rejected his defence and convicted him of murder. He will be sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.

The judge told him: "You're going to be sentenced for the offence of murder. You know it must be a life sentence and my task will be to decide what the minimum sentence will be. That will take place on Thursday."

The trial was told that Lorna, a fit and active woman, had set out from her home to buy flour from Lidl in Burnthouse Lane at 3pm. Her husband of 52 years, David, was waiting at home. He usually made her a cup of tea when she returned.

She was attacked by Davis at 3.55pm in a wooded area before she reached home. Lorna died at the scene from a knife wound that penetrated her chest to a depth of 12cm. She also had a slash to her neck and defensive wounds on her hand.

Lorna England, who died following an assault in Ludwell Valley Park in Exeter on Saturday, February 18 2023 -Credit:Copyright unknown
Lorna England, who died following an assault in Ludwell Valley Park in Exeter on Saturday, February 18 2023 -Credit:Copyright unknown

The trial heard detailed evidence about Davis’ background and his involvement with mental health services in the months and years before the fatal attack. He had worked in construction but had been homeless at different times.

In January, he was living in temporary accommodation at a guest house in Exeter Road, Exmouth , and told his support worker that he thought his mental health was deteriorating. He also developed a fixation with his housing support worker and threatened to “smash her head in.”

On January 28, he was assessed by two psychiatrists after saying he would either kill himself or someone else. It was decided he did not need to be sectioned. On February 16 he was given notice to leave his accommodation.

On the day he killed Lorna England, Davis called police at 4:40am and told them that unless he was arrested he would set fire to his flat or commit suicide. He told an ambulance crew who took him to the RD&E that he would “harm a random member of the public” if he was discharged from hospital.

A police cordon at a park in Exeter
Police at Ludwell Valley Park -Credit:Jamie Hawkins

He repeated the threats when was assessed by two experienced mental health nurses. Both had knowledge of his long medical history and decided he did not need to be admitted to hospital under the Mental Health Act because he was not psychotic. Davis left the hospital at 12:49pm.

His movements over the next few hours were recorded on CCTV. He bought vodka and chocolate at McColl’s shortly after 1pm, then went to Lidl where he bought more drink and a kitchen knife.

He spent time in a doorway behind Wonford Sports Centre and called his mother on the phone. He later told a jury he was contemplating suicide. Davis walked into the park at 3:50pm - just as Lorna England was leaving Lidl.

The last sighting of Lorna alive was CCTV of her walking along a path in Ludwell Valley Park with Davis about 11 seconds behind her.

A member of the public walking her dog at 3.55pm saw a man and woman near the bridge. She said it looked as if the male was blocking the woman’s path. She heard the woman cry out in pain and collapse.

Davis walked away from the scene, telling the witness she’d “had a fit or something”.

In the aftermath of the attack he was seen by several people. One woman said he followed her along Burnthouse Lane. “I’m not easily scared but I was immediately uneasy,” she said.

David was seen behaving strangely and bothering customers in the Dolphin pub before getting a lift to the Ship & Pelican in Heavitree. He tried to buy a drink in the Horse & Groom but had no money.

He was arrested outside the Yorkshire Bank in the High Street at 9:30pm.

Police at cordon on North Street, Exeter after alleged murder of woman in Ludwell Valley Park
Police at cordon on North Street, Exeter after alleged murder of woman in Ludwell Valley Park -Credit:submitted

The prosecution said Davis was assessed multiple times by doctors over several years who diagnosed him with an emotionally unstable personality disorder. During one disruptive spell in a secure unit he was branded a ‘malingerer’ or somebody who faked symptoms.

Dr Imraan Jhetam told the jury he had assessed Davis about three weeks before the killing. He said: "We didn't think he was suffering from a psychotic illness or mental disorder at that stage," he said. "We didn't think he was a risk to himself or others."

Defence expert Dr Richard Pool, a consultant psychiatrist, told the trial that Davis had a schizoaffective disorder that would cause an abnormality of mental functioning and met the test of diminished responsibility.

The defendant said he could not remember exactly what happened when he killed Lorna.

After the verdict the judge praised the efforts of the jury in hearing what she described as "an awful, awful case."

"This had been one of the most shocking and brutal killings. The killing of a member of the public walking through the park by a complete stranger taps into some very human fears. It was a tragedy for the England family."

She said jurors had to process complex medical evidence by no less than 17 mental health experts and doctors.

"The fact of the verdict will be some form of closure and comfort for the family, painful as it is," she said.

Afterwards, senior investigating officer Detective Inspector Dave Egan from the Major Crime Investigation Team said: "This was a brutal assault on an innocent woman. For reasons known only to Davis, he launched this unprovoked attack on Lorna as she walked home on a Saturday afternoon.

“His pleas to manslaughter were not accepted by the team and we are pleased that the jury reached this verdict today. Davis has had several psychiatric reports, two of which failed to support that he was suffering from mental health-related psychosis, a defence he claimed.

“In reality, Davis went out that afternoon intent on causing someone harm.

"Our belief is that it could have been anyone that he attacked that day – but tragically for Lorna, and all who knew and loved her, it was her that he chose and only he will ever truly know the reason why."

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