A devoted father was battered to death with a cricket bat after going out to find his stepchildren’s stolen bicycles, his family say.
Derek Whyteside, 42, was beaten unconscious in the street around a mile from his home and left to die.
He was found less than five hours after his partner, Michelle Wilson, had posted footage of the bike theft on social media.
Devoted father Derek Whyteside, 42, was attacked in the street less than mile from his home in Telford, Shropshire at 4.30pm on Monday afternoon. He is pictured with his partner Michelle
Derek Whyteside, pictured with his partner Michelle, is said to have been attacked with a cricket bat not far from his home
The video clip showed a hooded youth wheeling two bikes along a road as a second youth, apparently wearing a school blazer, cycled slowly in front.
Mr Whyteside was taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma but died two days later. A 16-year-old boy has been charged with murder.
‘Derek was a loving and vibrant person, everyone knew and loved him,’ a relative said. ‘He was a cheeky chappy and he wasn’t perfect, but no one is. The bikes had been chained up outside the house and the thief was caught on CCTV. Derek confronted them.
‘From what we have been told he was hit on the head from behind and didn’t see it coming. He didn’t have a chance.’
Mr Whyteside, a former warehouse and factory worker, was taken to Princess Royal Hospital in Telford, Shropshire, but was flown by helicopter to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after doctors realised how serious his injuries were.
Mr Whyteside took on his partner’s four children when they met eight years ago.
As he battled for life, Miss Wilson, 37, posted messages on social media willing him to pull through, until announcing the loss of ‘my love, my world’ after he died in the early hours of Wednesday.
Late on Monday morning, Miss Wilson had posted an appeal online after two teenagers were seen stealing a pair of mountain bikes from outside their home in Dawley in Telford. She wrote: ‘Two boys have just stolen two bikes from outside my house. A black and grey Carrera boys mountain bike and a pink and black girls mountain bike.’
Flowers have been left at the scene of the alleged attack, which has shocked neighbours
Michel claimed her partner had been attacked with a cricket bat before he died
Just over an hour later, she posted the short video clip of the youths going off with the bikes.
Mr Whyteside was found in the Malinslee district of Telford at around 4.30pm that afternoon. Early the following morning his partner wrote that he was in an induced coma with a fractured skull and bleeding to the brain.
She said: ‘Someone thought it would be OK to wrap a cricket bat round his head’, adding that he was also jumped on and punched. Speaking yesterday, Miss Wilson said she was ‘completely heartbroken,’ adding: ‘I just can’t talk about it. I only lost him the other day.’
In a statement, the family said: ‘Derek was loveable and could always see the best in people and if he considered you a friend he would strive never to let you down. He would always be there for you and was very proud of his extended family. He was a fab dad to his partner’s children, very protective, cheeky and loving and always meant well. He was Michelle’s world and was so good to her. He was a great brother too.’
Residents said the area has been affected by groups of youths. Pictured: Flowers at the scene
Mr Whyteside was found unconscious in this street on the outskirts of Telford on Monday
Distraught neighbours yesterday paid tribute to Mr Whyteside. One said: ‘Derek was a wonderful dad, completely devoted to his family.
Streets where elderly are scared to leave home
With its Iron Bridge and Coalbrookdale Furnace, the new town of Telford calls itself the birthplace of industry.
But where aspirational families once flocked to put down roots, homeowners now face the fear of crime. The area where Derek Whyteside died is plagued by teenage gangs running riot, shouting abuse and damaging property.
Some elderly residents are even too scared to walk out their doors as a result of the problem, one local said.
Some 239 crimes were reported in the Dawley and Malinslee areas of Telford in April. That included 89 incidents of antisocial behaviour and 22 of criminal damage or arson. On Thursday, armed police were called following reports that a youth was carrying a samurai sword close to a primary school.
Last month two teens were given criminal behaviour orders after more than a dozen complaints including harassing elderly folk on a Telford estate.
Neighbourhood officers with West Mercia Police have pledged to tackle gangs causing a nuisance in the area.
Superintendent Tom Harding said antisocial behaviour in Telford was down by 9 per cent year on year but admitted it remained a cause for concern.
‘What looks to have happened is he found out somehow who took his kids’ bikes, tried to get them back and was battered to death for his troubles.
‘It’s absolutely horrifying to think he was killed over something like this. No one deserves to be left to die in the street. Michelle and the kids are in absolute bits. It’s an absolute nightmare and everyone round here is appalled and very angry about what has happened.’
Another talked of gangs roaming the neighbourhood who ‘believe that they are above the law’, adding: ‘There is very little parental discipline and the police are already run ragged. It’s getting worse and I know of people, particularly old folk, who are simply too scared to walk out their doors.’
Sharon Grainger, 43, a childhood friend of Miss Wilson, said: ‘Derek was a good bloke, polite. He and Michelle had been together a good few years, she has lost the love of her life. It’s crazy, just senseless.’
Kerry Gargett, 31, another friend, said: ‘Everyone’s in shock. Derek was a really nice guy. We bought our dog off him. Michelle is in bits.’
West Mercia Police said a 16-year-old boy was charged with murder and he appeared at Kidderminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday. He was remanded in custody and will appear at Stafford Crown Court at a later date.
Two men arrested in connection with the incident have been released on police bail.
And a woman and two teenage boys have been released under investigation. Telford’s Neighbourhood Watch group set up the JustGiving page in support of the family which has raised £1,100.