A man who launched a sustained and unprovoked attack on a person he described as 'a friend' while he slept on a bus has been jailed for 21 years and 8 months.
John Edward Doherty, 39 (30.11.78) of Clem Attlee Court, SW6 pleaded guilty on Tuesday, 6 March to the murder of 48-year-old Archie Sheppard.
On Friday, 9 March, he was sentenced to 21 year and 8 months' imprisonment at the Old Bailey.
He also pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of an offensive weapon one of which he accepts was used to commit the murder. He was sentenced to two years' imprisonment for each count, to run concurrently with the murder sentence.
The court heard how Doherty had met up with Archie during the day on Thursday, 27 April 2017.
The defendant claimed both men knew each other and drank together on occasions but this claim was never substantiated.
On that day they met up in Willesden and spent the day riding buses before finally boarding a route 189 bus at Brent Cross at around 23:15hrs and headed back into Central London.
Both men went to the top deck of the bus and Doherty sat at the back while Archie fell asleep in a seat a few rows in front.
As the empty bus pulled away from a bus stand in Park Lane on its return journey, Doherty got up from his seat and moved directly behind Archie who was still sleeping. At around midnight Doherty produced a knife and launched an unprovoked attack on Archie.
Archie awoke and attempted to fend off Doherty but the attack continued over the next three minutes. During this, Doherty inflicted a large stab wound to Archie's leg along with several other injuries.
Doherty then fled, boarding a second bus to leave the scene.
Shortly after Doherty left the scene, a passenger boarding went to the top deck and found Archie slumped in his seat, critically injured.
Police and the London Ambulance Service attended but despite their efforts, Archie died at the scene.
A post-mortem examination at Westminster Mortuary on 29 April 2017 revealed Archie had died from blood loss as a result of damage to the femoral artery in his left leg.
Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command launched an investigation and Doherty was quickly identified from CCTV taken from the bus. This showed he and Archie boarding the bus together at Brent Cross.
Doherty was arrested in Fulham on the evening of 29 April and was found in possession of two knives. He was also in possession of the Oyster Card he had used when boarding buses before and after the murder.
During interview, Doherty initially admitted to being with Archie on the day of the murder but 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.
He was charged with Archie's murder later that evening.
Detective Inspector Simon Deefholts of the Homicide and Major Crime Command led the investigation. He 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."
Statement on behalf of Odette Mbah, the wife of Archie Shepherd:
"Although the result of the court hearing won't ever bring my husband back and I will always miss Archie desperately, I can take some relief that the man responsible has finally admitted to what he has done.
"I will always wonder exactly why he did what he did and I now have to prepare myself for the fact that we may never find out the reason that he killed Archie.
"He clearly is a violent and dangerous man, so I am pleased that he won't be a danger to the public for some considerable time.
"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the police for all their hard work in getting justice for Archie."