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A ‘heroic’ neighbor who sacrificed his own life to save a two-year-old boy has died after being hit repeatedly with a dumbbell, a coroner has said.
The body of roads officer Richard Woodcock, 38, was found by Thames Valley Police when they forced their way into a property in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, after being called in for an ongoing disturbance on June 26, 2021.
He had gone to the apartment next door to help the boy, who was thought to be in danger, the Milton Keynes Coroner’s Court heard.
The opening of the inquest into Mr Woodcock’s death in July heard that 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, adding that the boy, who suffered life-threatening injuries and required surgery, was saved by Mr. Woodcock’s “heroic conduct.”
The coroner said Mr Woodcock was assaulted and “lost his life” but “saved the life of a two-year-old boy”.
Mr Woodcock had reacted after an ‘altercation’ in the neighboring flat, which he had sent a woman screaming into her house that he was ‘in fear for his life and was obviously in an agitated state’.
Mr. Woodcock went to help. The door was opened, he was dragged away and severely 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 he took a life ‘unnecessarily’.
In a statement, his family said: “We have always been so proud of Richard and all that he has accomplished in life.”
“We are devastated that Richard has been taken from us under such circumstances, but we are also immensely proud of the sacrifice he has made to try to save the life of a young child.
“His actions of him on Saturday morning were the kind of man he was and that is how we would like to be remembered.
“A lot of people loved Richard, probably more than he ever knew, and it will be a great loss to all of his friends, family and co-workers.”
His wife, who has not been named, said: ‘Richard, it has been a blessing to share my life with you, my dear friend, my greatest love, my soulmate. My kind, generous, funny, smart and cheeky husband.
‘Thank you for loving me and being the best father to our children. I will love you and cherish our time together forever.’
Speaking in July at the opening of the inquest into Woodcock’s death, Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Blaik, from Thames Valley Police’s main crime unit, said Igweani was suspected of Woodcock’s murder.
He said: ‘A woman and a small child managed to flee the address before the arrival of the police.
“However, Richard Woodcock, from a neighboring property, had gone to the address to help save a young child, as it was believed he was still on the property and at risk of significant damage.”
Blaik said police were unable to enter because the door was locked, but entry was gained by firearms officers responding to the incident unarmed to provide urgent support.
“Having forced entry to the address, officers immediately spotted a deceased man, who has now been identified as Richard Woodcock, on the flat.
“And they were also aware of a distressed little boy within the leadership,” he said.
Blaik said another man, now known as Igweani, “immediately became aggressive” with the officers.
He told the court: “A Taser was discharged, but this was ineffective, and Kelvin Igweani barricaded himself in the master bedroom.”
The investigation heard armed officers who then attempted to enter that room.
He added: ‘A child could be heard crying, along with the sounds of an assault in progress. He gained entry to the bedroom, at which point a police firearm was discharged.
Blaik said police officers and ambulance personnel gave him first aid, but Igweani was pronounced dead at 10:33 a.m.
An investigation into Mr. Igweani’s death will be held at a later date.
Richard Woodcock Quick and Facts
- 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