Islington flower seller stabbed to death by late girlfriend’s son, court told

Tony Eastlake was fatally stabbed from behind as he walked along Halliford Street in Islington, north London.

Emily Pennink
Monday 07 August 2023 15:38 BST
Tony Eastlake was knifed to death close to his stall in north London (Metropolitan Police/PA)
Tony Eastlake was knifed to death close to his stall in north London (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

A popular flower seller was killed by his late girlfriend’s son who blamed him for her suicide, a court has heard.

Tony Eastlake, 55, was fatally stabbed from behind as he walked along Halliford Street in Islington, north London, on May 29 2021.

His late partner’s son James Peppiatt, 23, is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of his murder.

Opening his trial on Monday, prosecutor Julian Evans KC said Mr Eastlake was a well known member of the Islington community.

He had separated from his long-term partner in 2018 and began a relationship with the defendant’s mother Alisha Callaghan.

Mr Evans told jurors: “Tragically, on April 11 2021, Alisha Callaghan took her own life. Her suicide clearly had a great impact upon her son James Peppiatt and upon Tony Eastlake.

“According to a friend of Tony Eastlake, Alisha’s death caused something of a rift in the relationship between him and James Peppiatt and Tony Eastlake told that friend James Peppiatt blamed him for his mother’s death.”

On May 29 2021, Mr Eastlake had been working on his flower stall on Essex Road in Islington.

He packed up his stall at around 5.15pm, made a two-minute phone call to Peppiatt and set off, meeting the defendant in the street about two minutes later.

When they reached Ecclesbourne Road, a fight broke out after Mr Eastlake allegedly said: “Don’t piss me off. I took a lot. I kept quiet.”

Mr Evans said: “The fight went on for perhaps 30-40 seconds and during the course of that fight both men went to the floor and both men suffered injuries.

“James Peppiatt had been wearing a black hoodie and that appears to have come off. And after the fight came to an end James Peppiatt had suffered a cut to his face, a gash above his left eye and it began to bleed.”

Mr Eastlake, who was unarmed, began to walk away but Peppiatt followed him into Halliford Street, jurors were told.

A resident saw the two men and thought at the time they were “messing around”, Mr Evans said.

Mr Eastlake turned around and gave Peppiatt a “half smile” and the defendant allegedly said: “Do not f****** talk to me like that.”

Peppiatt appeared to approach Mr Eastlake from behind and punch him in the back, the court was told.

But Mr Evans said: “It is the prosecution case that when he approached Tony Eastlake from behind, James Peppiatt was holding a knife.

“Rather than punching him, James Peppiatt stabbed Tony Eastlake once in the back, from behind, with a knife. The stab wound proved fatal.”

Mr Eastlake appeared to “grimace” and made his way towards Essex Road and into a car park where he collapsed, jurors were told.

Members of the public rushed to Mr Eastlake’s aid and emergency services were called but despite their efforts the victim died at the scene at 5.58pm.

An examination of the stab wound found it was 6.5cm deep and had damaged the thoracic aorta, the main blood vessel in the body.

After the stabbing, Peppiatt had retraced his steps and walked back down Halliford Street bleeding from the cut on his eye, the court heard.

On the afternoon of June 1 2021, he went to Islington police station to hand himself in, the jury was told.

Peppiatt, of Elmore Street in Islington, denies murder and the Old Bailey trial continues.

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