For those who knew him, Thomas O’Halloran was the “good old man” with a beard who busked around outside his local London train station and ended up raising money for the victims of the war in Ukraine.
But on Tuesday afternoon the 87-year-old, originally from Ennistymon, Co. Clare, was brutally stabbed while driving his mobility scooter down a London street.
Mr O’Halloran was attacked around 4pm on Greenford’s Cayton Road by at least one knifeman, whom police described as “extremely dangerous”.
He managed to drive his mobility scooter about 75 meters, yelling desperately for help, before succumbing to his wounds.
Neighbors rushed to the rescue and attempted to administer first aid before paramedics arrived.
Mr O’Halloran was pronounced dead at the scene, his attacker having already disappeared, either into nearby streets or an underpass.
London Police last night released CCTV images of a man running from the scene armed with a knife. They said they wanted to identify him “urgently.”
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Eastwood, who is leading the investigation, said: “He is clearly a dangerous person and people are being advised not to approach him but to call us on 999 immediately if they know him or have any information about his whereabouts to have.”
Although Mr O’Halloran, who was said to be married with a number of children, had lived in London for many years, he still had close connections in Ennistymon, including a sister, two brothers and nieces and nephews.
Shane Talty, Fianna Fáil Councilor, said: “He left Ennistymon as a young man but has kept in touch with his family here. Terribly sad way of seeing a long life end.
“Condolences from the entire Ennistymon community to the extended O’Halloran family at this difficult time.”
Among those who knew him in London, Mr O’Halloran was remembered as “a very kind man”.
Hitesh Patel, 62, a shopkeeper at Greenford train station, said Mr O’Halloran has three children and often plays the accordion on his mobility scooter outside Tesco and Greenford train stations to raise money for Ukraine’s victims.
“People used to call him Mr Bond because he drove his scooter around and revved the engine,” Ms Patel said.
“He has lived here for a long time, maybe 20 years. My husband saw him around 11am near the location on the A40 yesterday. I also know his wife. He had quite a few sons, I think.
“Every day he came here and played. We knew it was him because he had a Ukraine flag on his scooter and used to raise money for charity.”
Mr O’Halloran was well known among members of the local Greenford community, who yesterday described their shock at a harmless pensioner being so violently assaulted.
Emotional security staff at Tesco in Perivale said Mr O’Halloran had “put a smile on people’s faces” for the last six or seven months by playing the accordion for an hour and a half every lunchtime.
A security guard, who asked not to be named, said: “He was a very kind man. The nicest man. He made everyone very, very happy when he came here and played. He was a special man.
“I will miss him very much. He put a smile on people’s faces. People are already laying flowers in front of the store.
“He was here yesterday at noon. I must have seen him a few hours before he died. I just talked to him. When I left yesterday he said ‘have a nice evening’. I will miss him and his music.”
Laura Golda, 39, who works at Coffee and Co at Greenford train station, said: “He came every day and was a lovely person.
“We don’t understand what happened. He was beautiful and liked.
“He was never a nuisance and never fought anyone. I don’t know why someone would hurt someone like that?
“He used to play the accordion every day. He used to have a little basket with a flag of Ukraine to raise money for the country.”
Frasley Coutinho said the stabbing took place right outside his home and he captured part of the incident on CCTV.
“I saw a few people gathering around him and then he drove by and stopped further up and then there was a group of boys around him.”
Mr Coutinho added: “It’s terrible. This is a peaceful area. It also happened in broad daylight in the summer on a busy road.
“I see him all the time. I’ve lived here for the past few years and he’s been cheerful. We would say hello to each other. He was a pretty peaceful guy who went his own way.”
Mr O’Halloran, who posted footage of himself playing the accordion on YouTube in October 2020, spent most of the day outside Tesco in Perivale before moving to Greenford station to collect money for the victims from evening commuters from around 4.30am of the Ukraine war to collect pm.
Nick Lambi, 72, who knew Mr O’Halloran, said: “I know these things can happen but it’s so worrying and worrying for this area. It is very rare that a man of that age can be attacked like that.”
Fay Terrelonge, 63, a neighbor of Mr O’Halloran, said: ‘I knew him and he was a lovely man.
“No one said a bad word about him. Of course we are all shocked and upset by this.
“He was helpful. Anytime you needed help or something broke, he fixed it. He helps whenever he can. He would never just walk past someone without speaking to them. He was always friendly.”
Jennie Peston-Howe, 44, who lives across the street from the pensioner’s home, added: “He was a nice old gentleman. He was a nice neighbor and we chatted occasionally.
“He was just a really decent person who would help with whatever you want. If you had a problem or something broke, he tried to help. He was into cars. He was just a really sweet old man who wouldn’t hurt a fly, that’s why it’s so scary. There was no way he would have provoked anyone.
“He raised money for charity and always did it near Greenford train station. I think he lived with his grandson.”
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, tweeted: “I am devastated that an elderly man has been killed in a horrific attack… My thoughts are with the victim’s family.”
Telegraph Media Group Limited 
https://www.independent.ie/news/police-hunt-suspect-after-really-sweet-irish-man-87-is-killed-on-his-mobility-scooter-in-london-41919611.html Police are hunting a suspect after a ‘really cute’ Irishman, 87, was killed on his mobility scooter in London