In the Media

Police chief is ordered to report on gang murder victim 'failures'

PUBLISHED August 29, 2006

BRITAIN?S most senior police officer has been asked to look into the alleged failings of his officers in the murder of a young father who died standing up to a gang of youths.

Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, will report fully to the Metropolitan Police Authority on the circumstances surrounding the death of Peter Woodhams. Mr Woodhams, 22, was shot dead in front of his fianc?e and his three-year-old son after a confrontation with the gang in Canning Town, East London, on Monday.

His family blame the police for his death. They say that he was attacked seven months earlier by the same youths, who held him down, slashed his face and stabbed him in the neck. No one was arrested, despite claims by Jane Bowden, his fianc?e, that police were given a list of names and addresses of suspects.

A senior officer apologised yesterday to the family. Commander Rod Jarman said: ?We will robustly deal with any failings in our investigation of the previous incident. I would also like to make my apologies for any hurt that that investigation may have caused the family.?

Mr Woodhams?s family said yesterday that police arrived only on Wednesday to take away the bloodied clothes that he had been wearing when stabbed.

The man?s father, also named Peter, said: ?These clothes are covered in his blood and their DNA. But they have been sitting in a plastic bag in a cupboard at his house for months. They could have held the key to putting these people away and saving Peter?s life.?

Ms Bowden?s father, John, 52, said that Mr Woodhams would still be alive if the police had done their job properly. ?You can apologise for what has happened but it has taken a murder to set the ball rolling,? he said. ?I do not want their apology, I just want things done. We were told the police were overstretched. I said to them, ?where in the pecking order is attempted murder?? As far as I am concerned attempted murder is quite a serious thing.?

Mr Bowden added: ?We told the police about it. They knew everything. We gave them names of who was involved and they said to us, ?we can?t go on hearsay?. There is a real gang culture in this area. Everyone is terrified of them. It has been going on for years. Peter stood up to them. They thought they got away with the stabbing and they thought they were untouchable.?

It was disclosed yesterday that a 14-year-old youth arrested in connection with Mr Woodhams?s murder had been held over the stabbing.