James Mills and Tom Kelly, Daily Mail (London), March 28, 2007
The family of a young father gunned down on his doorstep after a seven-month campaign of intimidation last night accused police of betraying him.
But Mr Woodhams would still be alive if police had done their job properly, his father said.
The 22-year-old TV satellite engineer, was shot in the heart last August in front of his fiancee—24-year-old classroom assistant Jane Bowden—and their three-year-old son Sam after a campaign of intimidation by a gang known as the Royal List Thugs.
In January last year he had been slashed across the face in a confrontation with the same group of youths in Canning Town, East London. No one was charged with the knifing—which left Mr Woodhams permanently scarred—and the yobs continued their harassment of the young father and his family.
Nine police officers are now being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission over the handling of the stabbing.
Last night the dead man’s father, also Peter, said: “Something should have been done and if it had been done I believe there is a very good chance that he would have still been here.
“Any officers found responsible, I find them personally responsible for contributing to Peter’s death. The officers are in a position of trust to protect us and serve us as part of what they do, and they didn’t.”
He added: “He was a hard-working and courageous man who was gunned down for standing up for his family. All he wanted was for the intimidation to stop. Knife and gun crime is getting out of hand. We make a plea to the parents to know where your children are, know what they are involved in.
“We must act together to stamp out this vicious streak in society.” The Old Bailey heard that the shooting was the ‘final chapter’ in a campaign of violence and bullying, which began on January 21, 2006, when one of the gang hurled a stone at Miss Bowden’s Ford Focus as the couple drove home.
As Mr Woodhams got out and challenged one youth, another shouted “Hold him, I’m going to do him”. He then slashed his face from eyebrow to mouth and stabbed him in the neck, narrowly missing his jugular vein.
No-one could prove who was behind the attack but, within days, Tucker emerged as the chief suspect.
Miss Bowden said: “We were told he did it by eight people. The police said they were going to have a line-up, but they never did that. We gave them names and addresses and they never did anything. We had no help at all from the police from the beginning. I felt very let down.’
Police never even bothered to seize his bloodstained clothing. Mr Woodhams was left traumatised by the knife attack. He gave up work for a month, attended counselling and was prescribed anti-depressants. And the taunts continued. Every time he met the thugs he was either obstructed or threatened with crude ‘throat slashing gestures’.
According to his fiancee he was ‘paranoid’ about seeing his attacker. Miss Bowden claims she phoned police every day for five weeks after the stabbing, but officers never took a statement.
Mr Woodhams resumed work, desperate to save up enough money to move out of the modest house the family shared. They even planned their first holiday together in Devon.
But their tormentors persisted. On a warm evening last August, the youths stood outside a local supermarket smoking cannabis. Mr Woodhams was mocked as he drove past, but this time decided to turn the tables and drove his car at them at speed to give them a fright.
Tucker wanted instant revenge. A witness heard him boast: “I’ll have him”. The teenager had acquired a pistol which he adapted to fire home-made bullets and he confronted Mr Woodhams a few feet from his front door. Standing, as one witness recalled, “close enough to touch” his victim, he pulled out the gun and fired four times.
Three bullets hit Mr Woodhams, entering both lungs and his heart. He was taken to hospital but died an hour later. Tucker ran off but was tracked down a month later. He admitted firing the shots but said he thought the weapon fired blanks.
Tucker, the product of a broken home, may now be reinterviewed over the stabbing. A 17-year-old youth who stood trial with him for murder was cleared.
Tucker placed his head between his knees in the dock as he was warned by Judge Peter Beaumont, the Recorder of London, that he faced a life sentence. He was remanded in custody.
The Royal List Thugs spent their days joyriding, robbing local shops and mugging. Police seemed reluctant to tackle them, with locals claiming the area had become a ‘no go zone’. It is judged so dangerous that courier firm DHL refuses to deliver there.
Chief offender Tucker, a petty criminal, was the product of a short-lived affair between his father Charlie Shaw, the London born son of Jamaican parents, and his white mother, Julie Tucker.
His parents split soon after his birth and Tucker was brought up by his mother with his half brother on a council estate where Mrs Tucker survived on income support. Despite the early separation, he had plenty of contact with his father.
With Tucker behind bars, the gang seems to have dispersed. Commander Mark Simmons, territorial policing commander for North-East London, said a ‘root and branch’ review of the handling of violent crime had led to an overhaul of practice across the borough of Newham, which includes Canning Town, and in some cases the whole of the Met.
Bradley Tucker (left-hand photo); Peter Woodhams (left, in right-hand photo, with Jane Bowden and son Sam.