Dean Mayley, from Northolt, died from a single stab wound to the chest, late in the afternoon of Friday 7 February.
The 24-year-old, who had learning difficulties, had been on the way by bus to visit a relative, a journey he had taken on many previous occasions, but newspaper reports suggest that he did not get off the bus at his usual stop.
Staff at a local disability charity where Mayley learned to travel independently on public transport have told Disability News Service of their shock on learning of the murder.
Lesley Dodd, chief executive of Ealing Mencap, said Mayley had received support during the travel training sessions with how to cope with any abuse or violence he might encounter during a journey.
He took part in workshops on “stranger danger” and “safe havens”, and Dodd said he had been doing “wonderfully” since finishing his training a couple of years ago.
She said: “We have supported so many young people to be independent… I would hope that however awful this is that it would not have the effect that people would not want to let their young daughter or son gain as much independence as they are entitled to.
“I have no doubt that [the murder] will come up [during travel training sessions].”
She added: “Dean was able to travel independently. Having spoken to people who knew him, he just wanted to be independent.
“It is awful. We are just very, very sad for Dean’s family.”
Dodd said Ealing Mencap had recently been holding hate crime workshops for young disabled people, in association with police and neighbouring Brent Mencap.
She said: “We are trying to raise the profile [of disability hate crime] and the police are trying to support that.”
Detective chief inspector Matt Bonner, who is leading the investigation, said he was “keeping an open mind as to the motive behind the murder”.
When asked by Disability News Service whether Mayley might have tried to put his training into effect and find a “safe haven” after leaving the bus at the wrong stop, a police spokeswoman said: “In regards to the locations and where he might have gone, [DCI Bonner] is unable to answer those questions at the moment for operational reasons.”
This week, detectives investigating what they have called a “brutal murder” released CCTV footage showing some of Mayley’s last movements.
The 24-year-old is seen alighting from an E9 bus in Ruislip Road East, Greenford, at around 4.25pm last Friday (7 February), and walking away in the direction of The Broadway.
About 50 minutes later he was attacked by a group of three or four males – all described as black and wearing dark, hooded tops – and was stabbed in the chest with such ferocity that his heart was pierced.
He was taken to hospital, but died later that evening.
DCI Bonner said Mayley would have shown “an unusual degree of trust in those who he came across”.
He said: “Those responsible are clearly dangerous and callous and it is critical that we track them down as soon as possible so that they can be held responsible for their appalling actions.”
There have not yet been any arrests.
Anyone with information about the murder is asked to call the police incident room on 020 8358 0200 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Meanwhile, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has renewed its appeal for witnesses to the events that took place in the weeks leading up to the death of Bijan Ebrahimi in Bristol last July.
IPCC investigators want to speak to witnesses who “were present, saw, heard or know anything in relation to Bijan Ebrahimi’s contact with police and with local residents in the days, weeks and hours before his murder”.
They also want to speak to anyone with information about Ebrahimi’s contact with police in the months and years before his death.
Campaigners believe the murder had striking similarities with some of the most shocking disability hate crime killings, and were appalled that neither Avon and Somerset police nor the Crown Prosecution Service treated it as a hate crime.
Ebrahimi was beaten and kicked to death, and his body then set alight, by 24-year-old Lee James, who lived just a few doors away from him in Brislington, on the edge of Bristol.
James was sentenced last year to life in prison, and must serve at least 18 years, after pleading guilty to murder. Steven Norley, his accomplice, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to assisting an offender.
The IPCC – which is investigating the actions of Avon and Somerset police in relation to Ebrahimi’s murder – has so far refused to say whether it is treating his death as a disability hate crime.
Anyone with information can contact the IPCC on 0800 096 9075 or via email at: [email protected].
13 February 2014