HENLEY businessman Stephen Langford, 43, of St. Anne’s Close, died after an incident in Greys Road — outside Henley Police Station — at around 1.45 a.m. on Saturday 9th December.
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He suffered head injuries and was pronounced dead at Royal Berkshire Hospital a short time later.
Hassan Artik, manager of the Istanbul Kebab shop opposite the police station, said he saw Mr. Langford being given first aid as he lay in the road.
“A lady — a nurse — tried to help him and moved him on to his side,” he said. “She asked him to squeeze her hand. He opened his eyes once, then he was gone.”
Mr. Langford’s death prompted the first murder investigation in Henley for 60 years. During World War II an American serviceman shot his lover at almost the same spot where Mr. Langford was found.
Police sealed off Greys Road and the adjacent car park until 5.45 p.m. on Saturday while they searched for clues.
Forensic experts scoured the street and worked in a large white tent put up above the spot where the alleged attack happened. Police have conducted house-to-house enquiries and appealed for witnesses.
Insp. Jason Purnell, Henley’s senior police office, said: “This is a shocking and tragic incident and my thoughts are with Stephen Langford’s family.
Mr. Langford is survived by a six-year-old daughter, Jenny, by his former partner Caroline McDowell, and by son Jack, aged three, by his girlfriend Kim.
His parents, Billy and Joan Langford, travelled from Liverpool to be with the family.
Mr. Langford moved to Henley in 1985. The Telecom sales manager played golf and was a member of Henley Golf Club.
He was known for driving a classic Ferrari until it caught fire a few months ago.
As a Henley Round Table member, he helped in their charity work and chaired the group in 1997.
To drinkers at the Bird in Hand pub on Greys Road, Mr. Langford was known as Liverpool Steve. He would regularly join friends there on Sunday nights and discuss the fortunes of Liverpool Football Club.
Flowers have been laid at the corner of Tuns Lane and Greys Road in memory of Mr. Langford.
The note on flowers left by his brother Mark read: “We shared so many happy times together. You may be gone but never forgotten. Will love you forever. Good night, God bless.”
Another note read: “Yesterday your Round Table friends called with Father Christmas, but I just cried.”
And another just carried one word ‘Daddy’.
Mr. Langford’s death stunned Henley and prompted questions about street safety and policing in the town.
Supt. Jill Simpson, the area commander of Thames Valley Police, said: “This was a shocking and tragic incident and my thoughts are with Stephen Langford’s family.
“Henley is an extremely safe place to live and this was a very unusual incident which has shocked the town. Two local men have been charged with murder.
“We have not seen any significant increases in alcohol related violence in the town and are working closely with licensees and our partner organisations with the pub watch scheme to reduce violence in the town.”
Stephen Langford: a tribute by MP Boris Johnson
WHEN someone dies a random and violent death, people often say that “he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
You certainly could not say that about Stephen Langford.
He was in the right place — Henley, the town he loved and to which he gave so much.
And there should be no wrong time to be on the streets of Henley.
Stephen Langford will be remembered by many for his life-affirming exuberance.
He was the man who led the commentary at the Round Table fireworks evenings, and he raised many thousands of pounds for charity.
I will always remember one particular Round Table evening, when he performed a wicked but good-natured skit at the expense of the visiting speaker, forcing me to scrap my speech and struggle to compose a reply.
It was a highly amusing event — and Stephen was at the centre of it.
He was a font of Liverpudlian irreverence.
Many people across the town will have their own memories, and all will be saddened by his death and troubled by the way he died.
Above all we worry about the safety of the streets.
The police have assured us that they were on the scene as soon as possible — and that certainly seems to be true. A patrol was there within minutes.
The police say it made no difference that the counter at the station was unmanned.
Some will doubtless point out that it was lucky, nonetheless, that the patrol happened to be in that part of town.
In the coming weeks and months there will be all kinds of conflicting accounts of what exactly happened.
But I have no doubt that a good man lost his life — in the prime of that life.
Many people’s lives have been blighted by this event.
The town of Henley has been at the centre of national speculation and discussion.
There is no consolation for us in any of it — except possibly this.
Whenever people across Britain have discussed Stephen’s death, they have emphasised how incongruous it is that it should happen in a place as famously trouble-free as Henley.
So let us use this time to work, with the police, to clear up the problem of yobbery and rowdiness on the streets.
Let us prove that the rest of the country is still right to think of Henley as one of the safest and loveliest towns in Britain.
That would be the first and best achievement we could offer to the memory of Stephen Langford.
Henley Murder update here.