Erik Feld: Homophobic man obsessed with extreme violence found guilty of murdering victim with hammer in cemetery | UK News

A homophobic man has been found guilty of murdering a man in a cemetery after hitting him 12 times in the face and head with a claw hammer.

Erik Feld, who had an obsession with extreme violence, hid behind a monument in east London in the early hours of 16 August 2021 before causing “catastrophic” injuries to Ranjith Kankanamalage, who was unarmed.

The 50-year-old victim was found by a member of the public on a path in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park later that day.

During his trial, the defendant made a homophobic rant about the victim who has a family in Sri Lanka and was in a relationship in the UK.

Feld had “dark places in his soul” that were “not in the darkest recesses but very near the surface”, prosecutor Paul Cavin KC told jurors.

“The extraordinary homophobic outburst is obviously something you will not forget,” he said.

Jurors were told Mr Kankanamalage was a regular visitor to the “spooky” cemetery, which was known as a “cruising” hotspot.

Feld’s legal team claimed he hit out in self-defence after the victim allegedly made a pass at him.

His lawyer, Isabella Forshall KC, told the Old Bailey: “Mr Feld has got himself in a creepy place, he’s got himself lost. It’s dead of night.”

She said the defendant did not strike Mr Kankanamalage because he was a “homophobe” but because he “got the wrong end of the stick”.

Feld said when he saw the victim, he became worried he was going to be attacked and hit him in the back of the head with the hammer.

He claimed he swung out with the object several more times after he was pinned down on the ground.

However, prosecutor Mr Cavin dismissed Feld’s version of events as “inherently unlikely”, pointing out just one strike with the hammer would have incapacitated the victim.