Neighbour invited knife-holding Sheku Bayoh into home for coffee, inquiry told

Neil Gibson told the inquiry how he invited his neighbour Sheku Bayoh in for coffee despite him holding a knife. The one pictured was found at the scene of Mr Bayoh's death.
Neil Gibson told the inquiry how he invited his neighbour Sheku Bayoh in for coffee despite him holding a knife. The one pictured was found at the scene of Mr Bayoh’s death.

A neighbour invited Sheku Bayoh into his home for a cup of coffee, despite the fact he was holding a knife, hours before he died after being restrained by police.

Neil Morgan told an inquiry his daughter reported seeing Mr Bayoh “fighting someone” in a nearby garden in Kirkcaldy’s Arran Crescent, some time after 6am on May 3 2015.

Mr Morgan, who lived opposite Mr Bayoh and said he got on well with him, went outside to investigate because he thought neighbours might be getting robbed.

He saw Mr Bayoh holding a knife in his right hand as he returned home.

Mr Morgan said: “It was a big kitchen knife, like when you get a block of five or six in a block, it would be the biggest one out of there.

“It was about six to eight inches.”

The knife was shown to the inquiry.

A photo of a knife was shown during the inquiry on Friday and the knife itself was also presented to witnesses.

It was found at the scene of Mr Bayoh’s death.

‘His eyes were all starey’

When asked by Angela Grahame QC if he had any concerns about approaching Mr Bayoh that morning, Mr Morgan replied: “Not at all.

“He was facing away from me. I called him, he stopped and turned around.

“By that time I had caught up with him.

“I asked him if someone was trying to rob (the neighbour’s house) and he turned round and said no one was robbing anyone.

“That’s when I noticed he was carrying a knife.

Neil Morgan giving evidence to the inquiry.

“I said ‘what are you doing with that (the knife), you can not walk around with that, you are going to get done’.

“I said ‘look, come back to the house, something’s upset you, have a cup of coffee or tea and (you) need to settle down.’

“He said ‘no, I’m alright, I’m fine.’

“He was not himself. I don’t know if it was too much to drink or anything else.

“He was not in a rage or anything like that but you could tell if someone’s been on something.

“His (eyes) were starey.”

Sheku Bayoh
Sheku Bayoh.

Mr Morgan continued: “He was tapping the knife on his leg and when I said to him ‘you can not go round with that knife’, he turned round and said ‘it’s not even sharp’ and poked it to my belly –  but not hard.

“I still did not feel threatened by him.

“My only big concern was I really wanted him to come home and settle down and have a cup of coffee and calm down.”

When Ms Grahame suggested some people might think it surprising he invited Mr Bayoh in for a coffee in the circumstances, Mr Morgan replied his wife did.

He added: “I did not (feel wary of that). Perhaps I should have but I did not.”

Witness Naomi Rhodes leaving Capital House in Edinburgh after giving evidence.

Mr Morgan said Mr Bayoh then walked away towards Cramond Gardens at the end of his street.

Another neighbour of Mr Bayoh’s, Naomi Rhodes, told the inquiry she was woken up by shouting at around 6am that morning and saw two men fighting outside from her bedroom window.

Mrs Rhodes agreed with her own witness statement from the time that she could hear a man saying “please stop, I’m sorry.”

Bayoh was ‘on a mission’

Mr Bayoh, who was 31, later died in police custody after being restrained by officers who were responding to calls from the public of a man brandishing a knife in Kirkcaldy on the morning of May 3 2015.

The inquiry also heard from a former police officer of 30 years, who was driving a white Mercedes sprinter van along Hayfield Road as Mr Bayoh walked towards him that morning.

David Grey told the inquiry another motorist flagged him down and said “there is a guy up there with a knife, turn round.”

David Grey said he saw Sheku Bayoh walking along the road with the knife.

Mr Grey said: “His eyes were very, very wide open and as he walked towards me it was more like a march, like he was intent on going somewhere – on a mission-type thing.

“As he walked, he had his palms open.

“In his left hand I saw what appeared to be a blade, a knife blade.”

When asked by Ms Grahame to expand on what he meant by Mr Bayoh’s eyes being wide open, Mr Grey said: “When I see something like that the first thing I’m going to think is ‘are they on drink or drugs?’.

“A fixed stare looking straight ahead, that’s what I thought.”

Dashcam footage, shown on the first day of the inquiry, caught My Bayoh walking along the road.

Asked what he meant by “on a mission,” the ex-officer said: “He was very purposeful in his walk.

“Obviously watching him coming down the road, he had his intentions set by the manner of his walking, the way he was marching and marching down the road that he was going to do something or take revenge, I don’t know, on someone further down the road.”

Mobile phone footage taken by Robson Kolberg also shows vehicles turning and fleeing as Mr Bayoh walks back along Hayfield Road in the direction of Hendry Road.

‘Murdered’ by police claim

A close friend of Mr Bayoh, Zahid Saeed – the father of murdered Edinburgh toddler Mikaeel Kular – claimed during the inquiry on Friday his friend was “murdered” at the hands of police officers that morning.

A written statement from Mr Saeed displayed to the inquiry showed Mr Bayoh had taken drugs the night before he died.

Zahid Saeed’s evidence was stopped until a later date.

But Mr Saeed, 38, was reluctant to answer questions from Ms Grahame when asked about the types of drugs they were taking and what happened afterwards.

Mr Saeed said he could not remember events from seven years ago and was traumatised.

He said: “First one was my son (Mikaeel Kular) who was killed and my friend (Sheku), who was murdered in police custody.”

It was decided that Mr Saeed would give evidence in another setting at a later date.

The inquiry, before Lord Bracadale, continues.

Sheku Bayoh: Key questions answered as the inquiry into Fife man’s death meets in Edinburgh

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Kirkcaldy – The Courier