Homophobic ‘obsessed with extreme violence’ found guilty of murdering victim with hammer in London
A homophobic killer who was so obsessed with hammers that he slept with one in his bed is facing at least 25 years in jail for battering a man to death in a cemetery.
Erik Feld, 37, struck 51-year-old Sri Lankan Ranjith Kankanamalage 12 times.
Mr Kankanamalage was found dead on the pavement by a member of the public in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, east London after he was killed in the early hours of August 16, 2021.
Feld collected hammers and had watched dozens of graphic videos of attacks in the weeks before the murder, the court heard. He even slept with a hammer in his bed.
Feld had told a mental health assessor in 2017 that he used to go out with a hammer looking for people to attack.
Erik Feld (left), 37, struck 51-year-old Sri Lankan Ranjith Kankanamalage (right) 12 times
He was arrested for the murder four days later after threatening a Poundland security guard with a hammer, but was released on police bail.
Feld was not rearrested until January 2022, when DNA taken from blood found on the victim’s fingernails linked him to the crime.
A post-mortem found there were approximately 12 blows to the head and face, fracturing the victim’s skull and damaging the brain beneath.
They had been inflicted with a claw hammer.
Feld denied murder but was convicted by an Old Bailey jury today.
Mr Justice Bryan warned he faces life with a minimum of 25 years for the horrific crime.
Prosecutor Paul Cavin said: ‘Mr Kankanamalage suffered catastrophic blunt impact head injuries.
‘So bad were they that the paramedics who first attended thought they were dealing with someone who had sustained gunshot wounds to the head.’
When Feld was arrested on 20 August 2021, police found three mallets and a sledgehammer in his home.
On his second arrest in January 2022 another hammer and a cutthroat razor were found by his pillow.
Mr Cavin said: ‘A download of the contents of the defendant’s phone indicated that he had a deep interest in violence with the particular theme of attacks with hammers.
‘In the weeks leading up to 16th August, he had repeatedly visited websites that contained videos of people being attacked with hammers, some of whom were beaten to death.’
Feld used a website called ‘The YNC.com’ to search for videos which showed a hammer attack in Birmingham and a man bludgeoning a two female employees with a hammer.
He also watched a man choking on his own blood having been murdered by a screwdriver and hammer, Mr Cavin said.
In a 2017 mental health assessment he said he used to ‘go out with a hammer, screwdriver or razor blades, hoping to catch someone unawares… down alleys…’ and that he would go out with a hammer in case an ‘ opportunity presented itself.
Mr Cavin said: ‘On 18 August 2021, the defendant visited a Poundland shop in east London.
‘A security guard approached the defendant, suspecting him of shoplifting.
‘There was a short argument then the defendant left. ‘He returned to outside the shop shouting, ‘Come out!’
‘He produced a claw hammer from his rucksack and lifted it above his head threateningly, whilst shouting.’
Mr Kankanamalage had left his home in Whitechapel at about 10pm and taken a tube to Mile End, arriving at the park by 10.52pm.
He was next seen by CCTV in the nearby Mile End Park at 3.55am heading back towards the cemetery.
Mr Cavin said: ‘You may be asking yourselves ‘why would he be visiting Mile End Park and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park at that time of the evening?’.
‘The answer is we don’t know. Not every question in a criminal trial can be answered and this is one of them.
‘However we suggest that it doesn’t matter why he was there.’
Whilst awaiting trial in May 2022, Feld had confessed to the murder in prison by way of a written note he handed to a member of prison staff.
He wrote: ‘This prison is irritating me in the extreme.
‘It’s the same crude p**** after another, I don’t know them nor do I care to know them.
‘They’re triggering moods that lead to my index offense (a random killing) committed against an unknown man.
‘My nature is that of a quiet, screwed person, they irritate me when I hear them speak.
‘They’re drug mugs, gossiping street gangsters, really. Pea-brained a******** who talking b******.
‘I’m fantasizing about killing one of these pieces of s***, gossips and d***heads.’
House me away from other prisoners with books and enough isolation to read in peace please.
In his defense statement read to court Feld claimed Mr Kankanamalage had attacked him after he went to the park with a hammer to hit some trees to help him sleep.
Local residents said that the graveyard (above) was well known as a ‘cruising’ spot for gay men, but gangs of youths had also been gathering there during lockdown
It said: ‘He intended to use the hammer to strike some trees in the park in the hope this would tire him, ease his tension and help him sleep.
Mr Cavin said: ‘It would be an incredible coincidence that of all the people that the deceased happened to come across at 4am in a park and decided to attack, he had the misfortune to choose a man with an unhealthy interest in the infliction of extreme violence, particularly with a hammer, and who by chance was armed with a hammer that night. ,
Local residents said that the graveyard was well known as a ‘cruising’ spot for gay men, but gangs of youths had also been gathering there during lockdown.
During the investigation Derek Lee, from the Met’s LGBT+ advisory group, said: ‘This is causing considerable concern amongst LGBTQ+ people in Tower Hamlets and across London.
‘We are advising the police on sensitive ways of keeping our parks safe and wider reassurance for all communities. At the same time we ask everyone to please use common sense when going home or out late at night. We must all be vigilant.
A figure matching Feld’s description was seen on CCTV leaving the park at 4.13am and walking less than a kilometer to Tredegar Road, where he lived.
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.