Man accused of London Underground attacks found not guilty of attempted murder by reason of insanity

One of the alleged attacks happened at Baker Street station (PA) (PA Archive)
One of the alleged attacks happened at Baker Street station (PA) (PA Archive)

A mentally-ill Tube passenger has been found not guilty by reason of insanity over a 35-minute “spree” of attacks at London Underground stations, including causing someone to fall onto rail tracks.

Donovan Kenlyn, 39, “chased and punched” passenger Samer Jawad at Baker Street station on October 27 2022, a court heard. Minutes later he “propelled” Angel Cambeiro onto the tracks at Finchley Road, narrowly missing live rails.

He then travelled to nearby West Hampstead station where he struck a third man, Peter Acton, on the back of the head.

He was cleared by a jury of attempting to murder Mr Cambeiro and causing grievous bodily harm with intent following a week-long trial at London’s Old Bailey.

He was also found not guilty by reason of insanity for assault occasioning actual bodily harm to Mr Acton, who suffered broken ribs after falling on a seat divider, and assault by beating against Mr Jawad.

Although Kenlyn accepted he was involved in the terrifying attacks on strangers, he denied the charges because he was suffering from schizophrenia.

A verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity is a “special verdict” and does not mean Kenlyn has been acquitted by the jury on those counts, but means he likely faces a hospital order.

Prosecutor Michael Williams had told the jury the “spree of violence against members of the public” lasted 35 minutes and was “without any known motive”.

Recalling the moment he landed on the tracks in a statement read to the court, victim Mr Cambeiro said: “I was in the waiting area when I saw a male coming towards me, something wasn’t right – he was looking at me, he was coming very clearly in my direction.

“He looked aggressive – he had an aggressive manner. I didn’t say anything, we didn’t exchange words.

“I just remember him closing his right hand into a fist, I think I thought he was going to punch me.

“He got right into my face. After that all I remember was I was down on the rail tracks.”

CCTV played to the jury showed Mr Cambeiro walking close to the edge of the platform carrying two Sainsbury’s supermarket bags.

The defendant could be seen putting his arm out in front of Mr Cambeiro before he plunged onto the tracks.

Mr Cambeiro said: “I was struggling to get up, I don’t remember the impact, I can’t recall the exact moment before I was on the tracks.”

He was helped back on to the platform by horrified members of the public after he broke his arm and dislocated his elbow in the fall. He has since had to have two operations, the court heard.

Jacqueline Hylton, a TfL customer services supervisor on duty, said: “If he had touched the negative or positive rails he would have been killed by the current.”

Consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Bradley Hillier told the court that Kenlyn suffers with “persecutory delusions” which caused him to incorrectly believe he was under threat.

At the time of the incident, Kenlyn was single, living alone and was not receiving any treatment for his mental health condition.

Dr Hillier told the court on Monday: “It does appear for various reasons - not entirely surprising in my opinion - that Mr Kenlyn had not been under the care of mental health services.”

He had likely been ill for “many years” because schizophrenia usually sets in in the late teens or early 20s, Dr Hillier added.

The clinician said he met Kenlyn at least four times in the 18 months before the trial and described his illness as “severe, enduring, relapsing and remitting”.

He also suffered with auditory hallucinations, a thought disorder that made him “at times incomprehensible” and was in a psychosis-induced “threat/control-override” state when he carried out the attacks, the court heard.

Dr Hillier added: “He thought he was defending himself – and didn’t think that it was wrong because he was subject to an attack.

“If you were in a state where you absolutely believed that there is somebody in front of you who will attack you, or is part of a group that attacked you – and quite possibly hearing voices that are telling you (that) you are in danger – you might possibly act in defence.

“And that’s what we believe Mr Kenlyn was doing in terms of trying to defend himself.”

In his closing statement, Paul Lazarus, defending, said Kenlyn was still “very unwell” after two years of psychiatric treatment in custody following the incident.

Kenlyn will be sentenced at a later date.