A mental health patient from Exmouth has been found guilty of murdering a woman who he stabbed in an Exeter park, three hours after being refused treatment at hospital.

Cameron Davis, aged 31, of Exeter Road, warned staff at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital that he might kill a random stranger after they decided not to admit him to the Wonford House unit.

 He attacked 74-year-old Lorna England as she walked home through woods in Ludwell Valley Park on the afternoon of February 18 last year.

(Image: Supplied by family) Exeter Crown Court heard that Davis had a record of mental illness and had been taken to the hospital earlier that morning after threatening to burn down the guest house in Exmouth where he was staying.

Staff assessed him, confirmed an earlier diagnosis of an untreatable personality disorder, and decided he was not suffering from a psychotic episode. He was discharged because a mental health practitioner considered he was in control of his actions and emotions.

He was told that if he went through with his threat to harm a stranger it would be a pre-meditated act of his own volition and not the result of his mental condition.

The staff tried to alert the police to Davis’s threats but used the non-emergency 101 number instead of 999. They were put on hold for two hours before being cut off. The call was not answered.

(Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)

Davis left the hospital, bought two bottles of vodka and a rope which he claimed he planned to use to hang himself, and spent about three hours hanging around the back of the Wonford Sports Centre. He returned to the shop where he had bought the alcohol and shoplifted a knife, before following Mrs England from the same shop to the park.

He told the jury he had planned to commit suicide after abandoning hope of getting help from the NHS, but claimed he had no memory of carrying out the attack, although he suggested he may have tried to take Mrs England’s phone to stop her calling the police.

(Image: Devon and Cornwall Police)

Davis denied murder but was found guilty when the jury at Exeter Crown Court rejected the defence that his responsibility for the killing was diminished by his mental condition.

 Judge Mrs Justice Stacey told him he will receive the mandatory life sentence for murder when he is sentenced on Thursday. During that hearing, victim personal statements from Mrs England’s family will be read to the court.

She thanked the jury and said: “This has been an awful, awful case; one of the most shocking and brutal killings. It was the killing of a member of the public walking through a park by a complete stranger and that taps into a very deep human fear.

“It has been a tragedy for the England family and their grief is unimaginable.”

But she said the evidence of how housing officers, health workers and community workers at the Open Door café in Exmouth had tried to help Davis showed there was some hope ‘amidst this catastrophe’.

Following the court's verdict, Exeter, East and Mid Devon Commander Superintendent Antony Hart said:  “Davis’s actions that afternoon sent shockwaves through our community. Although an extremely rare incident, it understandably caused huge concern amongst residents as they questioned how something so awful could have happened to a local grandmother.

"In the immediate aftermath and manhunt, and throughout the investigation, the community has been incredible in coming forward with information which not only assisted with the arrest of Davis but helped to secure his conviction. For this support, I would like to say thank you.

"This was a savage attack against an entirely innocent woman who had no way of defending herself. Our thoughts will always remain with Lorna’s family and friends.”

Lorna's family have released a moving tribute to her: read it here.