A knifeman has been found guilty of stabbing a popular flower seller to death after blaming him for his mum’s suicide.
James Peppiatt, 23, knifed Tony Eastlake, who was known as the “Flower Man of Islington”, in the chest and pierced his heart. He has today been jailed for life with a minimum of 20 years after being convicted of murder.
The Old Bailey heard Tony, 55, had been in a relationship with Peppiatt’s mum Alicia Callaghan after splitting with his wife in 2018.
She tragically took her own life on April 1, 2021, which caused a “rift” between Tony and Peppiatt, it was said.
Julian Evans KC, prosecuting, said: “Tony Eastlake told his friend that James Peppiatt blamed him for his mother’s death.”
On May 29, 2021, Tony called Peppiatt while packing up his flower stall at around 5 p.m. He then made his way along Essex Road where he met the killer and the pair walked together.
Tony was later heard saying something along the lines of: “Don’t p**s me off, I’ve taken a lot, I’ve kept quiet”.
Peppiatt then “moved at speed” towards the flower seller, who had worked on the same stall since he was 14. A fight between the pair lasting up to 40 seconds erupted, leaving both men injured.
As Tony tried to walk away, Peppiatt asked “Where are you going?” before continuing to follow him. Peppiatt then said something like “Don’t f***ing talk to me like that”, with one witness believing he then landed a punch on Tony’s back.
In reality, the killer had plunged a knife into Tony that severed his thoracic aorta – the main blood vessel in the body.
He was seen staggering into a nearby car park where he collapsed and died shortly after.
Peppiatt meanwhile fled the scene and chucked the knife and his phone into a canal. He handed himself in to the police three days later and answered “no comment” in his interview.
Paying tribute, Tony’s daughter Paige Eastlake said she “couldn’t be prouder” of her dad for the “lasting legacy he left as the ‘Flower Man of Essex Road'”.
She added: “As well as being my Dad, Tony was my best friend. There are no words that could ever explain the impact this tragedy has had and continues to have on me and my family. My Dad, Tony, was killed on the 29th of May, 2021 we are now in 2023. It has taken a long time to get here, a very long time. I am so glad that he finally got the justice he deserves.
“What we have been through as a family is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. A part of us died that day and nothing will ever help heal the hole that is left in our hearts. My Dad was kind, funny, generous, and had the funniest laugh. To me he was just perfect, he was one of a kind. Life will never be the same without him.
“He will never walk me down the aisle, he will never get to see my children. We will never do anything together again. All this was taken from me in the most cruel, senseless, uncalled-for way, and that is what we struggle with.”