Man sacrificed his life to save boy being held captive, inquest rules

Hero council worker, 38, sacrificed his own life to save boy, two, being held captive in flat when he was killed by footballer, 24, who repeatedly hit him over head with 4kg dumbbell, inquest rules

  • Council worker Richard Woodcock was killed with a 4kg dumbbell, a court heard
  • The 38-year-old was repeatedly hit on the head while he protected a child
  • He believed a boy, two, was ‘being held captive’ at apartment in Milton Keynes 
  • Kelvin Odichukumma Igweani, 24, was shot dead by armed police at the scene
  • A coroner said that Mr Woodcock’s heroic actions ‘saved the life’ of the toddler

A ‘heroic’ neighbour who sacrificed his own life to save a two-year-old boy died after being repeatedly hit with a dumbbell, a coroner has said.

Thames Valley Police found the body of highways officer Richard Woodcock, 38, when they forced their way into a property at in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, after being called to an ongoing disturbance on June 26, 2021.

He had gone to the next door flat to help the boy, who was thought to be in danger, Milton Keynes Coroner’s Court heard.

The opening of the inquest into Mr Woodcock’s death in July heard footballer Kelvin Odichukumma Igweani , was suspected of murdering Mr Woodcock. 

Igweani, 24, was pronounced dead at the scene after a police officer fired four shots.

Coroner Tom Osborne ruled that Mr Woodcock was unlawfully killed and added that the little boy, who suffered life-threatening injuries and needed surgery, was saved by Mr Woodcock’s ‘heroic conduct’.

Richard Woodcock, 38, was killed with a 4kg dumbbell in a Milton Keynes  flat, which he entered believing a young child ‘was being held captive’ and ‘at risk of significant harm’

Kelvin Odichukumma Igweani ‘became aggressive’ when police entered the flat and a Taser was fired, but it was ineffective leading causing officers to shoot at and kill the 24-year-old

When Mr Woodcock went to help, the door opened and he was dragged in and seriously assaulted ‘to the point where he was hit with a 4kg dumbbell’, the coroner said (pictured: the property in Denmead, Milton Keynes)

The coroner said Mr Woodcock was assaulted and ‘his life was lost’ but ‘he saved the life of a two-year-old boy’.

Mr Woodcock had reacted after an ‘altercation’ in the neighbouring flat, which had sent a screaming woman rushing to his home who was ‘fearful of her life and was obviously in an agitated state’.

Mr Woodcock went to help. The door opened, he was dragged in and seriously assaulted ‘to the point where he was hit with a 4kg dumbbell’, the coroner said.

Mr Woodcock’s death has had a ‘devastating’ effect on his family, who will be ‘haunted’ by what happened and that a life was ‘needlessly’ taken.

Police officers and forensic specialists examine the aftermath of the scene in Denmead, Two Mile Ash, Milton Keynes

The coroner told Mr Woodcock’s family that ‘he will be remembered for his heroism and his bravery but I think he will be remembered for more than his death’.

The coroner said he hoped that at some point the family, who did not want to speak after the inquest, will be able to think of their loved one and recall ‘happier times’, and added that Milton Keynes-born Mr Woodcock would be ‘remembered for a very long time’.

Shortly after his death, Mr Woodcock’s devastated wife and family paid an emotional tribute to him.

Kelvin Odichukumma Igweani (pictured above), 24, was pronounced dead at the scene after an officer fired four shots

In a statement his family said: ‘We have always been so proud of Richard and everything that he has achieved in life.

‘We are devastated that Richard has been taken from us in such circumstances but we are also so immensely proud of the sacrifice that he has made to try and save a little boy’s life.

‘His actions on Saturday morning were the type of man he was and that is how we would like him remembered.

‘A lot of people loved Richard, probably more than he ever realised, and he will be a huge loss to all of his friends, family and work colleagues.’ 

His wife, who has not been named, said: ‘Richard it has been a blessing to share my life with you, my dearest friend, my biggest love, my soul mate. My kind, generous, funny, clever, cheeky husband.

‘Thank you for loving me and being the best father to our children. I’ll love you and cherish our time together forever.’

Speaking in July at the opening of the inquest into Mr Woodcock’s death, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Blaik, from Thames Valley Police major crime unit, said Mr Igweani was suspected of murdering Mr Woodcock. 

He said: ‘A female and a young child had managed to flee the address prior to police arrival.

‘However, Richard Woodcock, from a neighbouring property, had gone to the address to help save a young child, as it was believed he was still in the property, and at risk of significant harm.’

Mr Igweani (above) was Tasered, but was able to barricade himself in a room before police gained entry and fired several shots

Mr Blaik said police were unable to get in as the door was locked, but that entry was gained by firearms officers who responded to the incident in an unarmed capacity to provide urgent support.

‘Having had to force entry to the address, the officers immediately saw a deceased male, who has now been identified as Richard Woodcock, on the floor.

‘And they were also aware of a distressed young child within the address,’ he said.

Mr Blaik said another man, now known to be Mr Igweani, ‘immediately became aggressive’ towards the officers.

He told the court: ‘A Taser was discharged, but this was ineffective, and Kelvin Igweani barricaded himself within the main bedroom.’

The inquest heard armed officers then tried to gain entry to that room. 

He added: ‘A child could be heard crying, along with the sounds of an ongoing assault. Entry was gained to the bedroom, at which point a police firearm was discharged.’

Mr Blaik said police officers and ambulance staff gave first aid, but Mr Igweani was declared dead at 10.33am.

An inquest into Mr Igweani’s death will be held at a later date. 

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