Stabbing victim 'died protecting fiancee'

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The Independent Online

A chef stabbed to death following an open-air music concert featuring The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra died trying to protect his fiancee, it was reported today.

Reynald Duchene, 37, was knifed shortly after leaving the the open-air concert with his partner Paula Haddlesey, her teenage children and friends.

The group had been approached by two men who tried to steal deckchairs being carried by Mrs Haddlesey but when her partner told them to "go away", they launched a brutal attack, the Daily Mail reported.

Paramedics were unable to save Mr Duchene, of South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, who had been to the Concert in the Park in Priory Park, Southend, to celebrate Mrs Haddlesey's 44th birthday.

Her son James, 29, told the paper: "Rey was devoted to my mum. He loved her to bits. She's in a terrible way, in pieces.

"She had to watch him die. We all did. He died trying to protect her.

"It just shows what a great man he was. Rey made her so happy, I don't know how she'll cope."

The couple had been planning to marry and move to Canada.

They were said to have been in a relationship for three years after meeting online.

Mrs Haddlesey's daughter Sophie, 17, told the paper: "We had the best time of our lives. It shouldn't have ended like that."

She said they had been walking back to a taxi when two men came over, asked for the chairs and began pushing Mr Duchene.

Having told them to leave, she said he then chased them around the corner where they pushed him over.

"We didn't know he had been stabbed until about 10 minutes later and he slid down.

"He was breathing really heavily, we didn't see any blood at all, then he went," she added.

According to the paper, the family had been joined by nine friends and their dog at a 6,000-strong Rotary Club fund-raiser at Priory Park on Saturday evening.

The group had been preparing to leave in a mini-bus following the concert.

Mr Duchene had worked in London for catering firm BaxterStorey, which is based in Reading, Berkshire, for nearly three years. His partner runs a ceramics business.

A BaxterStorey spokeswoman said he was French but had lived in England for several years.

On her Facebook page, Mrs Haddlesey, who owns a pottery art studio and has three children, said: "Finally found Mr Right his name is Rey, lucky me."

Rick Holroyd, managing director of BaxterStorey, said Mr Duchene was a "talented" chef who had lived in the UK since he was 17.

"He was a quiet guy who got on with his work - an extremely talented chef who was an inspiration to the younger staff," said Mr Holroyd. "When he was on duty things ran well."

He added: "It is beyond belief. Everyone here is absolutely devastated."

A senior officer said the victim may not have initially realised that he had been stabbed - and members of the public may have seen the altercation and not realised how serious it was.

Search teams found a knife though it is unclear whether it was the murder weapon.

Detectives said the men and women involved in the altercation with Mr Duchene were "possibly of Mediterranean background".

One of the men seen confronting Mr Duchene was 20, about 5ft 10in, had a tanned complexion, was slim with short, dark spiky hair and was dressed in white.

The second man was of similar size and complexion.

"We're still trying to clarify the exact sequence of events," said Det Ch Insp Godfrey O'Toole, who is heading the inquiry.

"We're asking anyone who was in the vicinity of Priory Crescent and Victoria Avenue at this time to contact us. They could be crucial witnesses."

:: Police said two men, aged 18 and 19 and from Southend, had been released on bail without charge pending further investigation after being arrested on suspicion of murder. Both were due to answer bail on August 6, said a spokeswoman.