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Homophobic killer who murdered man in east London graveyard loses bid to appeal sentence

Erik Feld was jailed for life for the murder of Ranjith Kankanamalage (PA Media)
Erik Feld was jailed for life for the murder of Ranjith Kankanamalage (PA Media)

A man who murdered a father-of-two in a homophobic attack in east London has lost a bid to have his sentence reduced.

Erik Feld, 38, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 28 years last June after fatally attacking Ranjith Kankanamalage with a claw hammer in a graveyard in Tower Hamlets, in August 2021.

A trial at the Old Bailey last year heard how Feld had realised his “depraved fantasy” to kill a random stranger with extreme violence, when he killed Mr Kankanamalage in the premediated attack.

His long-standing obsession with violence had seen him watch "snuff films" online, of men and women being bludgeoned to death with hammers.

Feld's lawyers later argued at the Court of Appeal that his sentence was manifestly excessive, due to the sentencing judge failing to correctly take into account the effects of his personality disorder on his offending.

But on Wednesday his bid to appeal was denied by Lord Justice Coulson, along with two other judges.

Murder victim Ranjith Kankanamalage (PA Media)
Murder victim Ranjith Kankanamalage (PA Media)

“We reject the submission that the 28-year minimum term was manifestly excessive," he said.

“This renewed application for permission to appeal must be refused.”

In the early hours of August 16 2021, Feld hid in the shadows behind a monument in Tower Hamlets cemetery in east London before attacking Mr Kankanamalage with a claw hammer.

The 50-year-old victim was struck 12 times in the face and head during the attack, and suffered a shattered skull.

He was found with catastrophic injuries by a member of the public on a path in cemetery park later the same morning.

In his trial, Feld concocted what the judge described as a preposterous “cock-and-bull” story and launched a homophobic rant at the victim, who had an ex-wife and two children in Sri Lanka and an ex-civil partner in the UK.

The sentencing judge, Mr Justice Bryan, said last year that despite Feld’s personality disorder, he “understood perfectly well” his actions.

Feld also had multiple previous convictions, including for brandishing an axe at passengers on the London Underground.

The previous convictions and the pre-meditated nature of the attack led to the 25-year starting point being uplifted to 28 years.

On Wednesday, Feld’s barrister Andrew Morris said Mr Justice Bryan had not acknowledged psychiatric evidence that Feld’s mental health played a “significant” role in the murder and that the sentence was too high.

He claimed that the “severity” of Feld’s disorder made the case “unusual”.

He said: “The personality disorder, such that it was, effectively watered down some of these issues to the degree the learned judge could have or should have made a further reduction or at least seen all these issues in the prism of this severe personality disorder.”

But in his ruling, Lord Justice Coulson, sitting with Mrs Justice Foster and Mr Justice Hilliard, said that Mr Justice Bryan showed “careful regard” to medical evidence and said criticisms of him were “misplaced”.

He said: “We are bound to agree with the sentencing judge that the planning and pre-meditation (of the murder) were not explained by the personality disorder.

“We conclude that the sentencing judge was entitled to find that the aggravating factors outweighed the single mitigating factor.”

Feld did not attend Wednesday’s hearing.