A vulnerable pensioner with learning difficulties who was fatally stabbed in the stomach, in a murder described as “despicable” by detectives, has been named as 68-year-old Peter Lewis.
Mr Lewis died of a single stab wound and was found in the communal hallway to his ground-floor flat on Claude Road, in Roath, Cardiff, in the early hours of Saturday morning.
The hunt to find his killer continued last night as details emerged about Mr Lewis, who police said lived alone and was “a happy man” who was “very well liked in the local community”.
Mr Lewis was a member of Cardiff People First, a self advocacy organisation run by people with learning disabilities.
In 2006, the pensioner was pictured alongside Cardiff singer Charlotte Church in a South Wales Echo article as part of a campaign to stop care spending cuts.
In an interview with the South Wales Echo, Mr Lewis described how the group had improved his life, saying: “I feel very good about myself now… I have achieved and accomplished so much.”
A spokesperson for Cardiff People First last night said: “We are shocked and saddened at the terrible news, and our thoughts are with Peter’s family at this worst of times.”
According to Companies House records, Mr Lewis was a director of Cardiff People First and celebrated his 68th birthday just three weeks ago.
South Wales Police said the incident happened at around 2.40am on Saturday morning.
Mr Lewis was taken to the University Hospital of Wales, Heath, but later died from his injuries.
Officers at a press conference yesterday said there was no apparent motive for his murder.
More than 50 officers are working “around the clock” to trace the killer.
Divisional Commander for Cardiff, Chief Superintendent Alun Thomas, said Mr Lewis was a “vulnerable man with learning difficulties”.
The city’s most senior officer described the murder as a “despicable incident”.
He added: “It is understandable that the people of Cardiff and the people of Roath are very worried and shocked that such a serious incident has occurred locally.
“I want to reassure them that everything is being done to arrest this person.
“It’s at times like this when the communities of Cardiff come together as one – we rely on each other as one family does another.
“The contribution of the public in Cardiff is crucial at this time – just that one piece of information is critical to this inquiry and we need your help.”
Police are trying to trace a man who was seen in nearby Oakfield Street at around the time of the incident.
He is described as white, wearing a light-coloured hooded top and trainers, and was running in the direction of Newport Road.
They are also appealing for information from anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious in the Claude Road and Oakfield Street areas on Saturday morning between 1am and 3am.
A major incident room has been set up at Cardiff Central Police Station and the investigation is being led by Detective Superintendent Stuart McKenzie, who said Mr Lewis had many friends and a “very supportive and loving” family.
He added: “I am anxious that the person responsible for his murder is apprehended and would urge anyone with information to contact the incident room or Crimestoppers anonymously.
“Somebody out there knows who this man is, please come forward and help us to track him down.
“We are also interested in a similarly described man who was seen in the area the hour prior to the incident, who has been described by local neighbours as being potentially under the influence of alcohol or drugs. We need the community’s help.”
Neighbours of Mr Lewis spoke of their shock at waking Saturday morning to police cars and a forensic tent erected outside the pensioner’s front door.
Shirley Sargent, 75, said Mr Lewis had lived alone at his ground-floor flat for about five years.
She said he was visited by carers who would take him shopping at Sainsbury’s.
“He was a nice chap,” she said.
Jean Gregory, 81, who lives in nearby Cottrell Road, said the murder had been a “huge shock” for the area, which is popular with students.
She said: “The police were all over and one bit was cordoned off with tape. When I found out it was a murder I thought ‘Oh my God’.
“I didn’t know the man by name but I used to pass him in the street and speak to him and say hello.
“It is a shock – I have never known anything like this before round here and I have lived here for 50 years.”
Cardiff council leader Rodney Berman, who is also the local ward councillor, said: “It’s very tragic and I think a lot of people are quite shocked to hear about this happening on their doorstep.”
Witnesses or anyone with information are asked to contact the Incident Room at Cardiff Central Police Station on 029 2057 1530 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.