Schizophrenic man convicted of killing former rugby player in knife attack

By Emma Bowden and Taz Ali, PA
·3-min read

A schizophrenic man has been convicted over the fatal stabbing of a former Wasps rugby player yards from his home while on his way back from the pub.

Grandfather-of-five Allan Isichei, 69 – described by his family as having “genuine values” and a “huge heart” – died after being knifed in Southall, west London, on August 24 last year.

He was on his way home from his local pub when the father-of-three was involved in a struggle with Gurjeet Lall, 36, who denied murdering Mr Isichei and stood trial at Inner London Crown Court.

Prosecutor Andrew Orchard QC said Mr Isichei had drunk a single bottle of beer at the Plough Inn before making his way home at about 6.30pm, when he passed Lall, who was leaning against a wall in St Mary’s Avenue South.

CCTV footage played to the jury showed the pair becoming “involved in conversation” after Lall spat on the pavement, and he struck Mr Isichei’s abdomen with his hand.

That was the moment the defendant stabbed Mr Isichei, the prosecution said.

This was disputed by Lall, who said in his evidence that he had punched Mr Isichei, and got involved in a “scuffle” with him during which he pulled a knife from his pocket.

The two men “fell on top of each other” and, while they were wrestling over the knife, Mr Isichei was fatally injured, the defence argued.

Mr Isichei tried to “stagger” and “crawl” up the road to his home 30 yards away, the court heard, with a 7in (18cm) deep wound that had perforated his kidney.

He managed to ring a nearby house’s doorbell before collapsing, and neighbours administered first aid before paramedics battled to restart his heart in an ambulance.

Defence barrister Siobhan Grey QC told jurors that “at its highest” this was a case of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility, adding: “Which in itself is a serious offence.”

During the trial, Lall said he carried a knife for protection, to “ward people off”, after being harmed in fights before.

He said he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia but could not remember the last time he took medication, adding that he stopped “way before” spring 2018 and had taken it “here and there” since.

The court heard that boxes of medication were found in his home, and Lall’s blood was tested for procyclidine and zuclopenthixol – the latter of which is “given or used in the treatment of schizophrenia” – with neither being detected.

The jury of eight men and four women found Lall not guilty of murder but convicted him of manslaughter by reason of diminished responsibility.

The former rugby player was described by his family as having “genuine values” and a “huge heart” (Family handout/PA)
The former rugby player was described by his family as having “genuine values” and a “huge heart” (Family handout/PA)

Members of Mr Isichei’s family wept and hugged each other in the court’s public gallery during the hearing on Monday.

Following the verdict, a statement from Mr Isichei’s family called him “one of the kindest, funniest, gentlest, hardworking and loving person you could ever wish to meet”.

“A man with genuine values, with a huge heart who would do anything he could to help those around him, be that family, friends or members of the community,” the family said.

“Our family has attended court every day and had to relive the horrific killing of Allan time and again.

“The impact on us all who have been in attendance, including his 93-year-old mother, his wife, brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren, has been truly awful.”

His family questioned why Lall, who jurors were told was arrested for possession of a knife in 2014 and again in 2019, had “been allowed to act in this way”.

Lall, of Vine Cottages, St Mary’s Avenue South, did not attend court on Monday, with presiding Judge Usha Karu earlier telling jurors not to “hold it against him that he is not here”.

He is due to be sentenced at the same court on December 14 pending psychiatric reports.