Man admits killing stranger by stabbing him more than 30 times with bayonet in London cemetery

·2-min read
Michael Morris-Owens (pictured) was stabbed to death in November 2020 (Metropolitan Police)
Michael Morris-Owens (pictured) was stabbed to death in November 2020 (Metropolitan Police)

A man has admitted killing a stranger in a random cemetery attack by stabbing him more than 30 times with a bayonet.

Cornelius Tully, 50, attacked Michael Morris-Owens, 62, as he sat on a bench outside the chapel in the grounds of St Mary’s in Kensal Green, northwest London.

CCTV captured on 22 November last year shows the shadow of a figure holding a long thin knife before the attack was carried out. 

Metropolitan Police had said that officers were called to the scene at 2pm that day. Mr Morris-Owens had died in the cemetery and was pronounced dead at the scene by London’s Air Ambulance and London Ambulance Service paramedics.

Two days after the attack, Tully, from Harlesden in Brent, appeared at Harlesden Magistrates’ Court.

On Tuesday, he appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Three Bridges secure hospital.

He denied murder but pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility. The plea was accepted by prosecutors because of his unspecified psychiatric condition.

Judge Anthony Leonard adjourned sentencing to 29 October.

At an earlier hearing, prosecutor William Emlyn Jones said Tully approached Mr Morris-Owens and repeatedly stabbed him with the bayonet “to the point he stopped moving”.

The attack began after Tully started a conversation with his victim before offering a hand, which was not shaken.

Mr Emlyn Jones said there followed the “somewhat macabre sight” of a shadow against the wall of the chapel which showed a long blade before Tully came into view.

He is seen with a sheath in his left hand and the bayonet in his right hand before stabbing Morris-Owens’ stomach.

The victim shoved the defendant away, but was chased before a “great deal” more stab wounds were inflicted, it was said.

Tully was remanded in custody until sentencing.

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