Richard Mannington Bowes was a shy man unknown to most locals when he was beaten by a mob in Ealing during Monday's violence.
Now, the 68-year-old, who has died of head injuries sustained as he confronted youths opposite his flat, has united a furious community trying to reclaim its streets.
Shops around Haven Green near Ealing Broadway displayed signs yesterday insisting it was "business as usual". Only the blood stains where Mr Mannington Bowes fell, and the boarded up windows, betrayed the rioting just four days earlier.
He died just before midnight on Thursday, having suffered fatal head injuries on Monday when he was attacked as he tried to stamp out a fire.
Scotland Yard said a 22-year-old had been arrested on suspicion of murder, rioting and carrying out three burglaries.
An area that had been portrayed as a comfortable suburb looked very different during the riots. Locals recalled as many as 100 youths running wild, smashing windows and setting light to bins, while a group of adults handed out hammers. The owner of one bar was beaten severely around the head. Only his wife's screaming eventually caused the mob to flee. The scenes came as no surprise to many residents. As she laid flowers at the spot where Mr Mannington Bowes fell, Amanda Lutchford said: "It has annoyed me to see the area portrayed as leafy Ealing. It is not that privileged or affluent. People say it couldn't happen here but it did – senseless criminality."
A taxi driver said: "Kids come here from different estates, nicking bikes. There is always an undesirable lot that come thieving here. It has been that way for five years."
Steven Levitt, a hairdresser, recalled Mr Mannington Bowes. "He was just one of those characters you see walking around." he said. "He was very eccentric, 6ft 6in, beanpole-ish and he always wore big shorts. You would see him walking up and down here with a couple of shopping bags. "I don't know if he ever spoke to anybody. He was very quiet, very shy. He was probably picked on because he looked so quirky. Everybody feels so sad. He was a loner and completely harmless and the next thing he has been murdered like that. For what?"
Originally from Bournemouth, Mr Mannington Bowes was an accountant and an accomplished pianist. A loner, he nevertheless challenged anti-social behaviour and had, a neighbour said, been fined ten years ago for confronting youths for urinating outside his home. His legacy, locals hoped yesterday would be a positive one. While a minority spoke of revenge, the mood amongst most was sadness and sombre reflection.
"After this devastation people will come together as a community and protect each other," said Rowenna Humphreys. "Ealing has changed over the past four or five years. I hope, please God, this will bring the community back together."
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in