Video: Hero OAP who confronted yobs dies, man (22) arrested
Published 12/08/2011 | 08:01
A 22-year-old man was arrested today after a pensioner, who was left in a coma after confronting rioters in Ealing, west London, died from his injuries. Scotland Yard held the man on suspicion of murder after an early morning raid.
Richard Mannington Bowes was pictured lying face down in a pool of blood after being attacked on Monday while trying to stop youths setting fire to large rubbish bins across the green from the flat where he lived alone.
It has emerged that he was a recluse who was tormented by youths repeatedly urinating and throwing litter in the street outside his home.
He was placed on a life support machine but from the outset his condition was so serious that doctors did not believe he would pull through. His estranged sister travelled down from her home in Derby yesterday, for a chance to say goodbye.
Police described the former accountant as “reclusive and private” and said it had taken two days to work out his identity because he had cut himself off from the world since his retirement.
The 68-year-old, originally from Bournemouth, had lived alone in a flat overlooking Ealing’s Haven Green in west London for more than 10 years and had no mobile telephone or landline.
Neighbours said he was a man of “old-fashioned values” and had a history of confronting anti-social behaviour in the area, regularly reprimanding youths for littering in the alley outside his flat.
Relations disclosed that he had been estranged from his family for decades following a rift. His sister, Anne Wilderspin, 73, said she was “shocked” by his injuries but hoped the ordeal would help reunite her family. “You don’t think anything like that happens to a relative of yours. We’ve been horrified,” she said. “I’m very sad to see him like this.”
Christopher Leaning, 67, an estranged cousin, said Mr Mannington Bowes came from a wealthy family but had vanished soon after his 20th birthday.
An accomplished pianist, he was described as a “single-minded” young man who had been shaken by the disappearance of his father, a doctor, during his childhood.
Mr Mannington Bowes cut all ties with his family, even rejecting the calls of an uncle who had tracked him down to Ealing using private detectives. “Richard was always a bit odd and single-minded, but it shocked everyone when he suddenly decided to go it alone and cut himself off from the family,” said Mr Leaning.
Neighbours of Mr Mannington Bowes told how he regularly walked across the green “with his head up and his chest out”, always wearing shorts with surgical supports on both ankles.
A friend and local businessman who was also attacked in the riots said Mr Mannington Bowes was a “harmless” and “lovely” man but he would often confront people. “He was the type of guy who was always asking people, 'Don’t put the rubbish there.’ He was always picking up rubbish and cleaning the road,” said the friend, who asked not to be named because he still feared reprisals by youths after his business was attacked and he suffered cuts to his face.
Another resident, Alastair Swinn, said Mr Mannington Bowes had told him off for smoking out of the window and dropping ash in the lane by their flats. “After that I got an ashtray,” he said.
Mr Mannington Bowes confronted stone-throwing youths on Monday night, but he was attacked and left for dead with a fractured skull.
He had not regained consciousness since the attack and died shortly before midnight last night.
Launching a murder investigation Detective Chief Inspector John McFarlane of the Homicide and Serious Crime Command said: “This was a brutal incident that resulted in the senseless killing of an innocent man.
“I still need the assistance of the community who may have witnessed the attack on Richard, to come forward and provide information or images they may have recorded on mobile devices.”
Detectives are hunting a youth they believe struck him in a lane behind the Arcadia Shopping Centre, which was looted.
Police were held back from reaching him by up to 100 youths throwing missiles, including bricks and chunks of paving slabs.