A former child soldier murdered a stranger in front of horrified shoppers.
Tedi Fanta Hagos, 27, murdered Stephen Dempsey, 60, by jumping on him from behind with a blade in the middle of the night.
In July 2021, two skateboarder witnesses hit Tedi with their boards in an attempt to disarm him and assisted in his restraint on Oxford Street in London.
Mr Dempsey, who was born in Belfast, was stabbed four times and died later that night from a chest wound.
Fanta was “seen carrying out a ferocious, random, and unprovoked attack on a helpless and unsuspecting member of the public,” prosecutor Caroline Carberry KC told the Old Bailey.
She said: “His victim could have been anyone who was in close proximity to him during the course of that day in central London.
“Sadly for Stephen Dempsey and his family, it was him.”
Because Fanta, who was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was deemed unfit to stand trial, jurors did not have to determine his guilt – only if they were sure he committed the acts he was accused of, Ms Carberry said.
On Wednesday, they deliberated for less than an hour before discovering he had a knife and committed the murder.
According to the court, Eritrean-born Fanta, who arrived in the UK in 2014, had convictions for criminal damage and assaulting a police officer and an emergency worker and was on bail at the time of the killing.
On June 18, 2021, he was arrested in Swansea for “brandishing a saw” and then bailed to appear at Swansea Magistrates’ Court, where the trial of facts was heard.
The court was also informed that Mr Dempsey’s sister Kathleen Dempsey has expressed concerns about how and why her brother was killed.
In a victim impact statement, Ms Dempsey said her brother was an “unassuming” man who had lived in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex since he was a child.
She said the retired civil servant had a “brilliant mind” and a “dry sense of humour” and loved live music and languages, particularly French.
Mitigating, Patrick Upward KC said Fanta was conscripted into the Eritrean army aged 12 or 13.
In the years of conflict that followed, the defendant was shot and tortured, Mr Upward said.
He eventually sought sanctuary in the UK and was granted refugee status but “by then the damage had been done”.
Mr Upward said Fanta was a “very, very ill young man”.
Judge Michael Topolski KC handed Fanta a hospital order without limit of time.
He said Fanta launched a “random and wholly unprovoked attack” and praised passers-by who went to Mr Dempsey’s aid.
He said Fanta had made seven court appearances in the past and been sectioned in 2020, adding: “This defendant slipped through the system unnoticed, uncared for, untreated and very dangerous.”
Detective Chief Inspector Geoff Grogan said: “My heart goes out to Stephen’s family, especially his mother, who lost him in such terrible circumstances.
“While I know there is precious little comfort in the wake of this awful story, I hope they will take solace knowing that people tried to help Stephen when he so needed it.
“Those two brave members of the public should know how greatly their actions were and are appreciated by Stephen’s family.
“The judge formally recognized their actions, as well as two other members of the public, with commendations for their bravery.
“I’d also like to thank my team of detectives, who worked tirelessly to bring Stephen’s family justice.”