A homophobe has been found guilty of murdering a man in an east London cemetery.
Erik Feld, who has a long-standing obsession with extreme violence, hit Ranjith ‘Roy’ Kankanamalage repeatedly in the headwith a claw hammer.
After being hit in the face and head 12 times, his injuries were so ‘catastrophic’ they were first thought to be gunshot wounds.
A member of the public discovered the 50-year-old at about 6.30am on August 16, 2021, in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park.
The Old Bailey was told Mr Kankanamalage was a regular visitor to the cemetery, which was known as a ‘cruising’ hotspot.
It was suggested in Feld’s defence that he got ‘the wrong end of the stick’ and hit out in self-defence after the victim’s ‘Gaydar malfunctioned’.
But under cross-examination, the 37-year-old embarked on a major homophobic rant about the victim, who has a family in Sri Lanka.
Afterwards, prosecutor Paul Cavin KC said Feld had ‘dark places in his soul’ that were ‘not in the darkest recesses but very near the surface’.
Jurors also heard that in the weeks leading up to the attack, he had repeatedly visited websites containing videos of people being attacked with hammers.
Mr Cavin said: ‘The extraordinary homophobic outburst is obviously something you will not forget.’
On the motive for murder, the prosecutor said: ‘Was he going there because that is where he knew people would be who he could attack?
‘Was he going there to attack somebody he thought might be gay? Who knows.
‘The evidence clearly demonstrates that prior to that evening, he had a deep-seated, long-standing serious interest in extreme violence using a hammer and that was an urge that could have been visited, perhaps, on anyone.’
Previously, Mr Cavin had told how Feld’s disturbing interest first emerged during a mental health assessment in 2017.
The defendant revealed he used to go out ‘with a hammer, screwdriver or razor blades, hoping to catch someone unawares… down alleys’.
Feld was arrested as he was awaiting sentence for waving a claw hammer outside a Poundland store two days after the killing, and later released on bail.
Police re-arrested him in January 2022 after his DNA was found on bloodstained nail clippings from the left hand of the victim.
Giving evidence in his trial, Feld claimed he had taken the hammer to hit trees for stress relief.
‘I decided to challenge myself, walk in the dark. I kept looking over my shoulder, I was not expecting to see anyone,’ he said.
When he came across Mr Kankanamalage, he became frightened he was going to be attacked and hit him in the back of the head with the hammer, jurors were told.
Feld, of Tredegar Road, Mile End, admitted killing Mr Kankanamalage but claimed he did so in self-defence.
He was convicted of murder after a two-week trial. He will be sentenced at the same court on a date to be fixed.
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