Man pleads guilty to murder after ‘brutal’ stabbing of Northern Irishman he called his ‘friend’
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Man pleads guilty to murder after ‘brutal’ stabbing of Northern Irishman he called his ‘friend’

A MAN who launched a sustained and unprovoked attack on a Northern Irishman he described as 'a friend' while he slept on a bus has pleaded guilty to murder.

John Edward Doherty, 39, of Clem Attlee Court, SW6, pleaded guilty this week to the murder of 48-year-old Archie Sheppard following a trial at the Old Bailey.

He will be sentenced this Friday.

Mr Sheppard, originally from Ballyclare in Co. Antrim, was found with stab wounds on a bus in Central London last April in what police dubbed a ‘cowardly and brutal’ attack.

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Archie Sheppard (Image: Met Police)

The court heard that on Thursday, April 27, the pair met up in Willesden and spent the day riding buses.

Doherty claimed both men knew each other and drank together on occasions but this was never substantiated.

At around 11.15pm they boarded a 189 bus together at Brent Cross and headed back into Central London.

Both men went to the top deck of the bus where they sat apart and Mr Sheppard fell asleep.

Unprovoked attack

At around midnight, after the empty bus began its return journey, Doherty produced a knife and launched the unprovoked attack.

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Mr Sheppard awoke and attempted to fend off Doherty but the attack continued for three minutes.

Doherty then fled, boarding a second bus to leave the scene.

Shortly after, a passenger got on and found the critically injured Mr Sheppard.

Police and the London Ambulance Service attended but despite their efforts, Mr Sheppard died at the scene.

A post mortem examination revealed he died from blood loss as a result of damage to the femoral artery in his left leg.

Doherty, who was arrested in Fulham on Saturday, April 29, initially admitted to being with Archie on the day of the murder but said he was unable to recall the events of the evening after suffering memory loss.

When given a further opportunity to explain what had happened, Doherty refused to answer any questions.

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'Cowardly and brutal'

Detective Inspector Simon Deefholts, who led the investigation, said: “The motive for Archie Sheppard’s murder remains unclear.

“Only John Doherty can say why he chose to murder Archie in such a cowardly and brutal manner while Archie was defenceless, asleep on a bus.

"The overwhelming evidence gathered by my team left Doherty with no option other than to admit his guilt in court.

“Doherty is a dangerous man who routinely chose to arm himself with knives.

“He was found in possession of two further knives when officers arrested him a day after Archie’s murder.

"The public should be reassured that we will do everything within our powers to apprehend those carrying or using knives."

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