A former boxer found beaten to death in the first-floor lobby of a council block regularly confronted drug dealers on the estate, his family said today.
Ian Tomlin, 46, a father-of-two who drove council buses for the elderly and disabled, was found slumped by lifts outside his flat in Battersea last night.
The killing marks the 106th homicide investigation launched in London this year. A neighbour who stumbled on the scene told the Standard: “It was like a slaughterhouse.”
The victim’s tearful father Cecil Tomlin, 84, told the Standard: “There were always drug dealers hanging outside his home smoking - he told them to move on because his kids live there. Maybe that started an argument. He was worried for his kids.
“These people will attack anyone. The government needs to do something about it. They need to be caught.”
His family is understood to live in another flat on the estate nearby.
Mr Tomlin sr added: “He was a good son and a great father. He was kind to everybody and spoke to everybody. He never had a problem with anyone and wouldn’t start fights.
“He had two kids.. we haven’t even told them yet. Their mother is devastated.”
Neighbour Francis Rafferty, 57, was one of the first to discover Mr Tomlin’s body and told of desperate efforts to save him.
He said: “There was blood everywhere. It looked like he had been stabbed. The police were running into the block and shouted at me to get towels. But he was already dead.”
Police were called to Cromwell House in Charlotte Despard Avenue at around 5.30pm yesterday to reports of a group of men fighting.
Mr Tomlin was found in a communal area “with injuries after having been assaulted”, police said.
The suspects had fled before officers arrived. Witnesses told how they heard screams and saw a man sprint away from the scene.
A staff member at nearby Battersea Fish Bar said: “Suddenly this guy ran out of the building. He was holding a metal rod. I think he was hurt as well, he was limping.
“He was saying ‘open the door, open the door’. There was a guy waiting in a car and they drove away in a black Astra.”
A resident of the block of flats, who asked not to be named, said: “We went up in the lift, the door opened and suddenly boom.. there was blood everywhere and a body.
“I was lucky, I didn’t see his face. A guy with me literally jumped back inside and shouted ‘don’t look’. He was shaking.
“He said it wasn’t like it was just stabbed once, it was much more than that. It was like a slaughterhouse.”
Mr Tomlin lived on the first floor of the 10-storey block on the Doddington Estate near Battersea Park “his entire life”, his family said.
A friend described him as a “strong and friendly” man who was “always around”.
Large swathes of the estate were cordoned off today as forensic officers gathered evidence.
Local MP Marsha de Cordova urged anyone with information to contact police and added: “I am very sorry to learn that another life has been taken as a result of violent crime in Battersea. My thoughts and prayers are with the victim’s friends and family.”
A Scotland Yard spokesman said there had been no arrests, and that a post-mortem examination will be scheduled “in due course”.
Anyone with information should call police on 020 8721 4005 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.