Lance Corporal Neville Richards, 22, died rescuing his family from an arson attack on Boxing Day 1982.

He was asleep with his wife Martina in the lounge of the flat in Ramsey House, Maysoule Road, Battersea, when petrol was poured under the front door and ignited with a piece of burning fabric shortly before 6.30am.

The burnt out flat in Ramsey House, Maysoule Road, Battersea

The flames quickly spread down the hallway and through the rest of the flat.

Neville, known as Noddy, ran to help his mother in the bedroom while Martina, then 20, jumped to safety from the lunge window. His mother and step-father climbed on to a balcony and were rescued by the Fire Brigade.

However Noddy was overcome by fumes and was found collapsed in the hallway after firefighters kicked down the front door.

The hallway of the flat after the fire

He served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment posted in Munster, Germany, and was on leave from the Army for Christmas.

His wife Martina, who had met and married him in Germany, said in 2016 that “Noddy’s loss remains as painful as ever”.

Noddy was a lovely, caring and gentle human being who was also extremely fit as he loved his sports and running marathons. He was denied a life with family and friends, having children, grandchildren and a whole life full of opportunities. There’s not one day that goes by that I don’t think of Noddy. Some little things make me remember him in a funny way, but when my own son turned 22 years of age I looked at him and it hit me like a ton of bricks that that was the age Noddy got killed. Because of all this I appeal to anyone from the bottom of my heart who knows anything, no matter how small, to listen to their conscience so the person who did this awful crime can be brought to justice. I didn’t even get to say ‘goodbye’ to Noddy or hug him one last time….”

Noddy’s wife Martina Lewis, speaking in 2016
Neville Richards

Nobody has ever been charged in relation to the attack or Noddy’s death, which is still being treated as murder.

A 28-year-old man was arrested in connection with the investigation but later released with no further action. The case was reviewed in 2012 and in October 2016 a fresh appeal for witnesses was launched by the Metropolitan Police.

Noddy was a decent young man who had built himself a promising career in the Army and was popular among his comrades. He was home for the festive season and had spent Christmas Day with his family before the horrific events of the following morning. Noddy put the safety of his family ahead of his own and sadly he was overcome by fumes before he could get out of the flat himself.

Noddy had a loving family and it’s heartbreaking that three decades on they still haven’t seen his killer brought to justice.

DI Susan Stansfield, of the Met’s Special Casework Investigation Team, speaking in 2016

Detectives asked for help from witnesses and anyone with information about the arson attack.

Neville Richards
Noddy Richards served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment in Munster, Germany

“It was a long time ago but I’m sure lots of people in the local area would remember Noddy’s murder,” said DI Stansfield. “Did you live in the Maysoule Road area? Did you see or hear anything suspicious in the early morning of Boxing Day 1982? Someone perhaps with a petrol can?

“In the weeks or months following the fire, did you hear any talk in the local area? If you have any information, no matter how small or insignificant you think it might be, please come forward. Maybe you didn’t contact police at the time as you were too scared but with the passage of time now feel able to tell us what you know in confidence.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 020 7230 4294 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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