A man charged with the murder of one of eight people stabbed in Birmingham city centre in the early hours of Sunday has been remanded in custody.
Zephaniah McLeod, 27, of Nately Grove, Selly Oak, Birmingham, is accused of killing Jacob Billington – and of the attempted murder of the seven other victims.
He appeared at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court via video-link on Wednesday morning, speaking only to confirm his personal details.
He rubbed his face and forehead with his hands, frequently obscuring his face during the five-minute appearance, and was remanded in custody to appear at Birmingham Crown Court – again via video-link – on Thursday.
Jacob Billington, 23, was stabbed in the neck during a night out with friends.
Police have so far not released an image of McLeod, but Sky News has tracked down one of the first pictures – showing the accused man against a red background.
Mr Billington, 23, was on a night out with school friends from Liverpool, visiting one of their group studying in Birmingham, when he was stabbed in the neck.
Three people are still in hospital after the city centre attack, including Mr Billington’s friend, Michael Callaghan, who is in a critical condition.
The man who sadly lost his life in yesterday’s stabbings in Birmingham has today been described as ‘the light of our life’ by his family.— Birmingham Updates (@BhamUpdates) September 7, 2020
Jacob Billington was just 23 when he was stabbed in Irving Street. #BirminghamUpdates #Birmingham pic.twitter.com/U4iKLAMsbq
A 22-year-old woman, attacked in Hurst Street, is critical but stable, and a man aged 30 is in a serious condition. The other four victims have been discharged.
All seven victims of the attempted murder charges were named in court on Wednesday – Dimitar Bachvarov, Migle Dolobauskaite, Thomas Glassey, Shane Rowley, Rhys Cummings, Ryan Bowers, and Mr Callaghan.
Three people arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender were released earlier on Tuesday pending investigation.
Mr Billington’s family said in a statement on Monday that he was “a funny, caring and wonderful person who was loved by every single person he met”.
More tributes were paid today by the the university he worked and studied at.
A heartfelt tribute to Jacob Billington & Michael Callaghan from Crosby, two victims of horrendous Birmingham knife attack. In the words of Michael’s uncle, @peterjharvey their friends acted heroically. Sadly they were unable to save Jacob. My thoughts with both families. So sad. pic.twitter.com/UtjONVmBDM— Bill Esterson (@Bill_Esterson) September 7, 2020
A spokesperson for Sheffield Hallam University said: “Jacob was a Sheffield Hallam graduate and had joined the library as a graduate intern, where his warmth and enthusiasm made him a greatly valued member of our team.
“Our thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends and colleagues at this very difficult time.
“We are providing support to those in our community who have been affected by this tragic incident.”
Mr Billington and Mr Callaghan had both attended the Sacred Heart Catholic College in Crosby, which held prayers for them on Monday evening.
The school said in a statement: “We are saddened at the events in Birmingham which took Jacob’s life and left Michael critically injured.”
“We are praying for Michael’s recovery and will never forget Jacob, his life touched so many in our school.”
Also paying tribute was Mr Billington’s local MP for Sefton Central in Merseyside, Bill Esterton, who said that his friends had acted “heroically” in a bid to save his life.