A charity has paid tribute to a homeless Latvian “former ice hockey player” found dead in east London, as detectives investigate his possible murder.
Vladislavs Radionovs, 57, was found unresponsive in rural lane near Ilford, in east London, on Saturday (2 November). A post-mortem found that he had died from a head injury.
Radionovs, who was born in Latvia, registered as a rough sleeper with Ilford-based homelessness charity The Welcome Project in 2011.
“Vlad was known as a gentle giant, although he had the firmest handshake I’ve ever known,” said Sonia Lynch, manager of the charity. “He also enjoyed music and singing and would sing his heart out to songs when we had musical events at the centre.”
While still alive, Radionovs had told her of his days spent playing ice hockey in his home country at an “Olympic level”, and the “pleasure and joy” he received from the many medals he was awarded.
Vladislavs Radionovs registered as a rough sleeper with the Welcome Centre in 2011. Image Credit: The Welcome Centre.
At least 726 people died homeless in 2018, according to data from the Office for National Statistics. The death of Radionovs is the most recent of at least ten homeless people in the east London borough of Redbridge since October 2017.
Research published by homelessness charity Crisis in 2016 found that people living on the streets are 17 times more likely to have been the victims of violence than the general public.
RightsInfo understands that Radionovs had stayed at night shelters run by Redbridge Council, and another run by the Salvation Army, in the months before he died.
Katherine Goodwin, the detective chief inspector leading the investigation into his death, believes it is likely he was assaulted late on Friday or in the early hours of Saturday, before being taken to Oaks Lane, near Aldborough Hatch Farm.
She said: “I am trying to piece together a picture of his life in the days and weeks prior to the discovery of his body. If you know anything, no matter how insignificant it may seem, please do contact us.”
Contact homicide detectives with information on incident room number 0208 785 8244 or call 101 quoting CAD 1823/02 November. If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.