Where were you?

Where were you when you heard about a man being stabbed to death on a train on 4 January this year? I remember where I was when I heard about the attacks of 11 September, 2001 (on a high school ‘retreat’ in a beautiful redwood forest in California) and 7 July, 2005 (about to walk our dogs), and the deaths of Dianna Spencer and Michael Jackson. 51-year-old victim Lee Pomeroy wasn’t a celebrity, and his sudden and violent death is of no apparent national or international significance, but I remember hearing about it on the day itself on BBC News as I waited for my turn at the barber’s.

Actually, that’s not quite accurate. I remember reading about it, on the scrolling news reel. I’d been running this website for several months by then, and had learnt to spot the signs of a psychopathic attack committed by someone whose mind is ‘steeped’ in cannabis (a simple task, if one isn’t closed to any criticism of this popular pleasure drug). As soon as I read the headline, therefore, I knew that the perpetrator would a) have stabbed his victim multiple times in a frenzy of violence, b) not evade capture for long, and c) turn out to have smoked vast amounts of cannabis for many years.

Sure enough, after stabbing Mr Pomeroy 18 times, Darren Pencille embarked on a pitiful and shameful attempt to evade capture by altering his appearance, aided by his repulsive girlfriend, which came to nothing. His claim that he acted in self defence, and his refusal to testify during the trial further showed that his once fertile mind had been turned into a nuclear wasteland. It came as no surprise when, a week before he was found guilty yesterday, it emerged that he smoked cannabis every day. 

As with countless other cases, I do not say that cannabis caused this attack. Violence is a voluntary action; nothing causes it. But just as there is a flagrant link between alcohol and many fights in city centres on Saturday nights, so there is blatant connection between Pencille’s heavy consumption of cannabis and his sudden decision to murder a man who had briefly blocked his passage in the aisle of a train from Guildford to London, and then stood up for himself in front of his teenage son when challenged and mocked about it. Those whose minds are steeped in drink do not commit such crimes. Their violence is always deplorable, often traumatic and occasionally fatal, but it is not frenzied and sustained. There are now too many similar cases for this terrible problem to be ignored. Here are some of them:

  1. Tragic Kane, 10, praised for bravery after saving life of girl from Coupar Angus killer: ‘Kane Morris, from Coupar Angus, died on November 11 last year after he was stabbed in his bed six times by his father Karl Morris, also known as Andrew. An eight-year-old girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was stabbed in her lung and survived the attack. Paramedics found that Kane, after being stabbed once in the chest and five times in the back, attempted to reach the room where the girl had been sleeping. At the High Court in Glasgow, Morris, 38, admitted a charge of culpable homicide, reduced from murder on the grounds of diminished responsibility, accepting he fatally struck Kane several times with a knife. He also admitted a charge of attempted murder against the girl and a third charge of possessing cannabis on November 11 last year.’ (19 June 2019)
  2. Teen who stabbed Joan Hoggett to death warned medics a year earlier: ‘Someone will get killed’: ‘Mountain [the defendant] said he started taking cannabis at age 15 but cut back because he experienced “profound hallucinations”.’ (11 Mar 2019)
  3. Reading man jailed for killing father of two in random attack in Bracknell: ‘Sentencing, Judge Paul Dugdale said: “I find that it is more likely than not that Liam Turner was not suffering from either schizophrenia or from a schizoaffective disorder at the time of the murder.” He instead theorised that a mixture of anti-social behaviour, anger, stress, alcohol and cannabis abuse were more important factors.’ (12 Feb 2019)
  4. Carl Madigan knifed Sam Cook in heart two weeks after friend slashed man’s stomach open: ‘Facebook accounts show Carl Madigan, 23, and Shaun Bethell, 19, hanging around together and smoking cannabis before the shocking offences which will now define their young lives.’ (16 June 2018)
  5. Predator jailed for ‘wicked’ murder of barmaid: ‘Fuelled by cocaine, cannabis and alcohol, Kasim Lewis, 31, attacked 22-year-old Iuliana Tudos with a bottle, and carved what appeared to be a Batman logo on her chest.’ (17 May 2018)
  6. Drug-crazed schizophrenic Polish warehouse worker broke into a family home and stabbed a mother-of-two to death while her helpless husband listened on the phone: ‘Porczynski, who was later found to have cocaine and cannabis in his system, seemed ‘distant’ and ‘confused’ but after searching him he was released. But he then went the short distance to his house at 10.50pm and armed himself with a kitchen knife, the court heard. Porczynski, who admitted smoking cannabis, returned around 11.20pm and first smashed his way into her next door neighbour’s house, Mr Shar, but ran away when he confronted him.’ (17 Dec 2016)
  7. Femi Nandap: Mentally ill student handed indefinite hospital order for Dr Jeroen Ensink murder: ‘The court heard Nandap’s mental illness began after he began to use cannabis heavily while living in the United States.’ (10 Oct 2016)
  8. Family of decapitated woman tell of despair as killer cleared of murder: ‘[The defendant’s] friends told police he regularly smoked skunk cannabis, took cocaine and had been known to drink whole bottles of spirits each day.’ (23 June 2015)
  9. Youth jailed for double murder: ‘Curran told the court he had spent most of that day drinking and taking drugs. He had been drinking vodka and alcopops and smoking cannabis. He had also taken between 15 and 20 Diazepam pills. He said the effect was the same as usual. He was “off [his] head”.’ (7 May 2010)
  10. Care in the Community patient with 39 convictions free to stab father to death in cannabis-induced psychosis: ‘A violent psychopath who stabbed a young father to death four months after walking free from court over another brutal attack has been jailed for life. Colin Welsh, 42, was sentenced to at least 12 years in prison today as a judge described him as ‘clearly dangerous’. After 20 years of smoking powerful cannabis the paranoid schizophrenic believed a ‘transmitting device’ had been implanted inside his inner ear by criminals to send him mad.’ (16 Mar 2010)
  11. ‘NHS failed to investigate why mental patient was free to murder my son’: ‘McKenzie, 25, had a history of mental illness but was being cared for in the community. He had stopped taking his medication and was smoking cannabis before he bought a carving knife and murdered the sound engineer.’ (25 Feb 2010)
  12. Schizophrenic cannabis user jailed for stabbing policeman to death: ‘The jury heard that 36-year-old Pc Henry was called to George Street in Luton just after 7am after Obih had stabbed window cleaner Stephen Chamberlain. As he tried to arrest him, the paranoid schizophrenic knifed Pc Henry, then stabbed him with the 4.5in (11.5cm) blade a second time as he lay on the ground.’ (24 Mar 2009)
  13. Doctors knew my son’s killer was a mentally ill skunk user: ‘Tung Minh Le, 17, was stabbed once in the heart in an “unprovoked, unpredicted [sic] and inexplicable” attack as he left a West End nightclub. His 18-year-old killer Chien Nguyen had become ill after starting to smoke cannabis at the age of 13.’ (12 Feb 2009)
  14. Man found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity: ‘The jury had deliberated for under one hour and had returned during that hour to ask if the fact that Mr Connors had smoked cannabis before the killing was relevant to his culpability.’ (4 Feb 2009)
  15. ‘I’ve been on telly… I’ve just murdered some guy’: Killer’s boast after stabbing disabled man: ‘Lorenzo Alonzi, defending, said that Kean, of George Street, Ayr, had a serious drug problem which began with him smoking cannabis when he was just 11. He added that at the time of the offence, Kean was taking 50 diazepam tablets a day combined with 50ml of methadone and cannabis.’ (14 Oct 2008)
  16. Teen guilty of dog walker murder: ‘Adrian Jones, 17, beat Kelly Hyde, 24, from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire, around the head with a barbell. Jones did not know his victim and police said they still did not know his motive. He sobbed in the dock as the verdict was read out… He told the jury he came across a dog lead used by Ms Hyde as he walked along the bridle path smoking cannabis on the day she disappeared.’ (17 July 2008)
  17. Cannabis addict jailed for life for stabbing Good Samaritan to death as he tried to protect elderly neighbour: ‘Rafiq Kashmiri, 50, launched the frenzied attack on Jon Cooper-Taylor after he rushed upstairs to help the 83-year-old woman after hearing the sound of crockery smashing in her flat… Psychiatrists discovered he was suffering from a manic episode bipolar disorder caused by a long history of cannabis dependency and abuse which caused ‘uncontrollable violence’. (16 July 2008)
  18. Why Shane Haynes killed Geraldine Brocklehurst remains mystery: ‘A 22-YEAR-OLD man will spend at least 16 years behind bars for murdering a Huddersfield prostitute. But the reason why cannabis-smoking Shane Haynes stabbed 40-year-old Geraldine Brocklehurst – leaving her to bleed to death – are [sic] unclear.’ (1 Mar 2008)
  19. ‘I’d like to execute the thugs who kicked my husband to death’, says the grief-stricken widow of Garry Newlove: ‘The gang was also high on skunk cannabis when they attacked the father-of-three when he remonstrated with them for vandalising his wife’s car.’ (12 Feb 2008)
  20. Skunk addicted schizophrenic fulfils sick fantasy by killing a black woman:  ‘Psychiatric reports stated that Maxwell was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, and his abnormality was so great that it affected his judgment [sic].The reports also said his condition was exacerbated by the heavy use of skunk.’ (3 Apr 2007)
  21. Youth guilty of Dundee murder:  ‘The court heard that McIntosh [the defendant], who had been smoking cannabis, alarmed three strollers on Law Hill with his odd behaviour shortly before the killing.’ (17 Apr 2002)

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