Birmingham ‘best friend’ killer jailed after being overhead on the bus talking about the fatal attack

Gary O’Neill has been jailed for killing his ‘best friend’ at the victim’s bedsit in Birmingham
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A man has been locked up for killing his friend in Birmingham after being overheard on a bus talking about the violent hammer attack.

Gary O’Neill was arrested in Scotland the day after attacking Kenneth Ford – described by associates as his ‘best friend’ – at his bedsit.

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West Midlands Police attended the multi-occupancy property with paramedics at 5.40pm on February 27, 2022, after concerned friends raised the alarm. The 30-year-old was found with bruising and puncture wounds across his body, including a 10p size wound by his temple.

Gary O'Neill jailed for manslaugher of Kenneth Ford in BirminghamGary O'Neill jailed for manslaugher of Kenneth Ford in Birmingham
Gary O'Neill jailed for manslaugher of Kenneth Ford in Birmingham

There was nothing which could be done to save Mr Ford and he was pronounced dead at the flat in Colebrook Road in Sparkhill. Around the same time, a bus passenger called 999 to say they’d overheard a man on a phone telling how he’d ‘straightened Ken out’ and suggesting he needed an ambulance.

O’Neill, aged 32, got off the bus in Glasgow but an officer from Police Scotland was waiting to arrest him. He was found wearing blood-stained clothing and holding his Birmingham to Glasgow bus ticket.

O’Neill, formerly of Kenilworth Road, Perry Barr, refused to answer any questions in interview. But DNA tests showed Mr Ford’s blood was on his joggers and phone analysis showed he was at the scene on the night of February 27.

Kenneth Ford Kenneth Ford
Kenneth Ford
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O'Neill was found not guilty of murder by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court on December 12, but during the trial he had offered a plea of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility which was accepted.

On 28 March he was sentenced at Stafford Crown Court to a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years.

Detective Inspector Michelle Thurgood, from our Homicide Unit, said: "We hope this sentence can bring Kenneth's family some peace and our thoughts remain with them."