'Evil and cowardly' Exeter murderer jailed for life

Exeter park killer Cameron Davis has been jailed for life for the murder of ‘random stranger’ Lorna England. The 31-year-old, who has shown no remorse, must spend a minimum of 28 years in prison.

He stabbed the 74-year-old grandmother through the heart as she walked home from Lidl through Ludwell Valley Park. He was angry about losing his accommodation and not being given a hospital bed for mental health issues.

Earlier this week, a jury at Exeter Crown Court rejected his claim that he had diminished responsibility for his crime and convicted him of murder. He returned to court on Thursday morning to be sentenced by Mrs Justice Stacey.

She said: “This was a planned and premeditated attack. It was the terrible fate of Lorna to be walking through that part of the park when you were also there.

An updated picture of Lorna England released by police after the conviction of her killer -Credit:Devon & Cornwall Police
An updated picture of Lorna England released by police after the conviction of her killer -Credit:Devon & Cornwall Police

"You took her phone from her. She had perhaps been trying to summon help. Her family will never know what happened as you have refused to say."

She said there was evidence Lorna "fought back valiantly" against her attacker before Davis callously left her on the ground to die.

She said it was not a case of a mentally ill man being failed by the authorities but an angry killer with a personality disorder and narcissistic characteristics not getting his own way.

"The truth is you were able to make rational choices. You chose to commit this shocking act to punish the hospital, mental health services and police and all the people who tried to help you, in anger, because you did not get what you wanted."

The court was read moving victim statement by Lorna's children and grandchildren who described their heartbreak at losing their fit and active mum and grandmother and the trauma thinking about her horrific final moments when she met her "evil and cowardly" killer.

Lorna, a fit and active woman, set out from her home to buy flour from Lidl in Burnthouse Lane at 3pm on February 18, 2023. Her husband of 52 years, David, was waiting at home. He usually made her a cup of tea when she returned.

Her route took her through the park and close to Wonford Sports Centre. CCTV showed Davis loitering about the back of the sports centre, drinking vodka.

At 3.55pm Davis attacked Lorna in a wooded area near a bridge before she reached home. She 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.

Davis’ was well known to mental health services. He had worked in construction but had been homeless at different times. He had a background of heavy drug use and spent time in prison for supply offences. During one spell inside he exhibited disturbing and bizarre behaviour. One assessment by a psychiatrist described him as a ‘malingerer’ or someone who faked psychotic symptoms. He was diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder.

In January, he was living in temporary accommodation at a guest house in Exeter Road, Exmouth , and he told his support worker that he thought his mental health was deteriorating. He also developed a fixation 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 and boasted about having got away with crimes before.

He was assessed by two experienced mental health nurses who 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. Shortly after 1pm he went to Lidl where he bought the kitchen knife. He later told a jury he was contemplating suicide.

Knife used by Cameron Davis to kill Lorna England
Cameron Davis leaving hospital

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”.

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

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."

Davis told the trial he could remember events before and after the killing but not the moment itself.

Jo Martin KC, prosecuting, said the starting point for sentence was a minimum of 25 years. Davis had bought a knife and taken it to the scene and selected a lone female walking in a wooded area.

"There was significant planning and premeditation. From very early in the morning he was telling people that he intended to kill a random stranger if he did not get what he wanted. He selected and purchased a knife big enough to kill and much bigger than required if he was simply seeking to end his own life and he selected a victim he could kill.

"Cameron Davis always had a choice, not because he was mentally disordered. He may have been struggling with his thoughts but not as a result of mental disorder."

Joss Ticehurst, defending, said Davis' mental health was deteriorating in the weeks leading up to the murder.

Members of Lorna's family were in court to hear the sentence. Several read statement outlining the devastation caused by her death and condemned Davis for his lack of remorse. Husband, David, described Lorna as his soulmate, the eldest of nine siblings and rock of the family.

He said his life will never be the same and he will never forget the moment a police officer sat him down to tell him his wife had been murdered.

"It constantly plays on my mind how somebody can so evil," he said. "It breaks my heart that the last face she saw was yours - a coward, brutal monster.

"Laura was my guiding light, my soulmate and had everything to live for." He said they had planned a future together that had been destroyed by Davis' heinous and deliberate act.

Ludwell Valley Park crime scene
Ludwell Valley Park crime scene

"There is now a massive emptiness in my heart without her. I never expected not to be able to say goodbye. All our lives have been utterly destroyed by you, Cameron Davis.

"Because of your uncontrollable temper and deliberate actions Lorna is no longer alive. No punishment you receive will ever be adequate compared to the pain and torture you inflicted on Lorna and her family."

Mrs Justice Stacey said Davis was the only person responsible for the murder.

"You have Cluster B personality disorder with emotionally unstable, narcissistic and anti-social characteristics. You do not have a psychotic illness. You are wholly focussed on yourself and are attention-seeking. Your mood can change quickly and you are prone to anger.

"Your personality disorder does not significantly reduce your culpability and did not diminish your responsibility for Lorna’s death."

She added: "It is a feature of your personality that you blame others and seek to shift responsibility for your own actions bound up with your sense of grievance and victimhood. But let me be absolutely clear: you were wholly responsible for Lorna’s death and no-one but you is in any way to blame."

"This is not a case of society being failed by the police or public services. Only you knew that you would carry out the threats that you had made many times before as empty threats."

Judge Stacey finished by praising family: “My last words must be to Lorna’s amazing family to acknowledge once again their terrible loss and thank them for sharing their powerful statement about the impact of this crime on their lives.”