A man who killed a father metres away from his teenage son on a train in Surrey has been found guilty of murder, according to British Transport Police.
Darren Pencille, 36, stabbed Lee Pomeroy in the neck and upper torso 18 times within minutes of boarding the train on Friday, January 4.
Pencille was arrested by armed police less than 18 hours later at his girlfriend’s home in Willbury Road in Farnham, Surrey.
He had previously attempted to avoid capture by travelling to Frensham Ponds near Farnham, Bognor Regis and Chichester, police said.
The court heard the two had begun shouting at each other after Pencille became frustrated with Mr Pomeroy and his son blocking the aisle.
According to a witness, he said: “ignorance is bliss” as he passed.
The two then exchanged heated words, with Mr Pomeroy following Pencille alone into the next carriage where they continued to shout, police said.
The argument grew – Mr Pomeroy telling Pencille that he had disrespected him in front of his son and Pencille threatening: “You touch me, you touch me, and you see what happens at the next stop.”
Soon after Pencille was heard to talk into his phone “I’m gonna kill this man”… “He’ll be dead.” This was alleged to have been a call made to co-defendant Chelsea Mitchell.
CCTV then showed Pencille pulling a knife from his pocket and stabbing Mr Pomeroy in the neck.
The 51-year-old victim – who was celebrating his birthday the following day – desperately tried to defend himself, polcie said. He was stabbed 18 times, within an 27 second frenzied attack.
No sooner than the attack had begun, the two broke apart with Mr Pomeroy moving down the carriage and sitting; Pencille grabbed his belongings which were scattered during the attack, and excited the train as it entered Clandon rail station in Surrey.
Police said both parties had boarded the train at London Road station in Guildford at around 1pm.
Within seven minutes the attack had taken place and Mr Pomeroy died just over an hour later despite the best efforts of police and paramedics on board the train.
Interviews, CCTV and other tools helped piece together his movements before then.
One witness saw him climbing a fence as he fled through fields and away from the train immediately after the attack.
He was sweating profusely and had ditched a bloodied hat and jacket nearby to Clandon station.
As Pencille fled he called his girlfriend Chelsea Mitchel, 28, who picked him up and took him back to her flat, police said.
The two spent three hours at her home; Mitchell used her mobile to search for news reports relating to the stabbing, whether there were CCTV cameras at London Road station, and creating a video of Pencille’s injuries.
She went to a local Tesco’s and bought hair clippers with the intention of helping Pencille shave his head in hopes of changing his appearance, police said.
They also drove from the Willbury Road address to the rural Frensham Ponds followed by Chichester and Bognor Regis, before researching cheap hotels in the Surrey and Sussex areas, police said.
They then returned home and were arrested hours later.
Within that time, Pencille had called an ex-girlfriend and his mum, telling them he had done ‘something bad’ and said they would see it on the news, police said.
During police interviews, Pencille refused to answer any questions put to him – providing no explanation why he unleashed a savage attack on Mr Pomeroy.
Pencille and Mitchell both appeared at the Old Bailey in London where they were tried and found guilty; Pencille for murder and possession of an offensive weapon, Mitchell was found guilty of assisting an offender.
Both will be sentenced within the coming days.
Detective Chief Inspector Sam Blackburn, of the British Transport Police, said: “This was a case where a brief argument resulted in a moment of shocking violence that ended with the death an adored father, husband, brother and son.
“No argument, however heated, should result in the violence seen that day and no family members should ever bear witnesses to the violent death of a loved one.
“It was solely the actions of a murderer who, when challenged, could only respond with vicious threats and a knife, which led to Mr Pomeroy’s death.
“The loss of Lee has left an unfillable hole in the lives of his family; he was their rock, their main breadwinner, a soulmate to his wife, and a defender, guide and mentor to his teenage son.
“I hope witnessing the conviction of both Darren Pencille and Chelsea Mitchell provides some small comfort and helps them piece their lives back together after this sudden loss. I’d like to thank them for their invaluable support throughout this investigation.
“I’d also like to thank the work of dedicated and specialist officers and staff from the British Transport Police who tracked down Pencille less than 18 hours after the murder, and the months they dedicated to securing damning evidence of Mitchell’s attempts to help Darren Pencille avoid justice. It was their efforts supported by the brave accounts of eyewitnesses that ensured the true facts were established in court.
“This is undoubtedly a very difficult time for the family and they ask that their privacy is respected. Thank you.”
Chief Superintendent Ali Barlow from Surrey Police, said: “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Lee Pomeroy following his tragic death on 4 January. We recognise the profound impact his death has had on those who knew him, and we offer our sincerest condolences.
“I hope that the fact that Pencille has been found guilty of Mr Pomeroy’s murder today will provide his friends and family with some closure for what happened and allow them to start coming to terms with their loss.”