'A big soft puppy': Cricket coach's tribute to 'fine young man' killed in Nottingham as he recalled his 'cheeky grin'

14 June 2023, 12:57 | Updated: 14 June 2023, 13:08

Barnaby Webber's cricket coach has paid tribute
Barnaby Webber's cricket coach has paid tribute. Picture: Handout/LBC

By Heather Cartwright and Kit Heren

The cricket coach of one of the students killed in Nottingham has paid tribute to him as a "big, soft puppy" who had a "cheeky grin".

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Simon Cutler told LBC that Barnaby Webber, who was one of three people killed in the early hours of Tuesday morning, was a "fine young man".

Speaking from Bishops Hull Cricket Club in Taunton, Mr Cutler said: "He was a big, soft puppy. You know, he had a big grin on his face. Very talented young sportsman, very popular with his teammates. He gave 150% all the time."

Mr Cutler, who is a family friend of the Webbers, said Barnaby, 19, "was just great to coach - he had a cheeky grin".

"He was a bit challenging at times, which I enjoyed. But he grew up to be a fine young man."

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Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: social media

Barnaby and Grace Kumar, also 19, were on their way home from a night out at around 4am on Tuesday morning when they were killed.

Ian Coates, a school caretaker in his 60s, was later killed while making his way to work - before the attacker stole his van, going on to run into three people in the city centre.

A 31-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The motive behind the attack is not yet clear.

Mr Cutler's tribute came after Barnaby's family described their "complete devastation" at the "senseless murder of our son", saying he was a "beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to".

His dad David and mum Emma, and younger brother Charlie, said: "Complete devastation is not enough to describe our pain and loss at the senseless murder of our son.

"Barnaby Philip John Webber was a beautiful, brilliant, bright young man, with everything in life to look forward to.

"A talented and passionate cricketer, who was over the moon to have made selection to his university cricket team.

Read more: Nottingham attack suspect 'is West African man, 31, who has legally lived in UK for years' as cops probe mental health

Barnaby's younger brother Charlie was said to be 'beyond bereft' at his death
Barnaby's younger brother Charlie was said to be 'beyond bereft' at his death. Picture: Family handout/PA

"At 19 he was just at the start of his journey into adulthood and was developing into a wonderful young man.

"As parents we are enormously proud of everything he achieved and all the plans he had made.

Flowers left by the wicket at Bishops Hull Cricket Cricket Club in Taunton, in tribute to 19 year old Barnaby Webber
Flowers left by the wicket at Bishops Hull Cricket Cricket Club in Taunton, in tribute to 19 year old Barnaby Webber. Picture: LBC

"His brother is bereft beyond belief, and at this time we ask for privacy as a family to be allowed time to process and grieve.

"We are so proud to release these photographs, chosen by us as a family, of an amazing son, brother, grandson, nephew and friend.

L-R Dad David, Barnaby, his mum Emma and his younger brother Charlie
L-R Dad David, Barnaby, his mum Emma and his younger brother Charlie. Picture: Family handout/PA

"Thank you for your understanding, and to everyone who has supported us in this awful journey so far."

Grace was described as an up-and-coming hockey star.

She rose through the ranks at London's Southgate Hockey club, while Barnaby played at Bishops Hull Cricket Club in Taunton, as well as the university cricket club.

Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: social media

Barnaby's cricket club said: "Today we learnt of the death of our dear friend and team mate, Barnaby Webber.

"Barney was attacked at the early hours of this morning walking home with a friend after a night out on 13/06/2023 and had lost his life.

"'Webbs' joined the club back in 2021 and has since then been a key part of our club and made such an impact in such a short space of time.

"Playing more than 30 games for the club, scoring 622 runs, and taking 29 wickets, his memory will live on."

Read More: Teenage hockey star named as second student, 19, killed in Nottingham van and knife rampage

On Tuesday, Barnaby's grandfather Phil Robson confirmed his death, according to the Sun.

"It’s tragic. We can’t say anything at the moment. Everyone knows the family locally," he said.

Meanwhile, one of Grace's friends told The Sun that she was "grieving".

Grace Kumar was an up-and-coming hockey star
Grace Kumar was an up-and-coming hockey star. Picture: social media

In an update given on Tuesday evening, Nottinghamshire Police said that they believe the suspect behind the attack stole a van from another victim before driving at members of the public at random.

Speaking outside the city's police station, Police Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: "Police were called to Ilkeston Road just after 4am after a member of the public reported that two people aged 19 had been stabbed and were unresponsive.

"We had a further call to another incident in Milton Street, where the driver of a stolen van had attempted to run over three people. As a result, one man is in hospital in a critical condition while two others are believed to have suffered minor injuries"

Nottingham major incident: Full police statement

She continued: "The van was then stopped on Maple Street, where a man was tasered and detained by police officers on suspicion of murder. A man in his 50s was also found dead from knife injuries in Magdala Road by a member of the public.

"At the moment, we believe that the suspect has stolen this man's vehicle and driven it to Milton Street, where he is then driven at members of the public.

"We are still in the early stages of the investigation. I need to determine exactly what the motives were behind this attack."

Read More: Anti-terror cops swarm Nottingham after two people stabbed to death and three more mowed down with van

'A truly horrendous, tragic incident'

Flowers and candles lie at the altar after being placed by friends of the deceased during a vigil at St Peter’s Church
Flowers and candles lie at the altar after being placed by friends of the deceased during a vigil at St Peter’s Church. Picture: Getty

On Tuesday evening, hundreds gathered to pay tribute to the three people who lost their lives in the random attack, including Grace and Barnaby.

Residents gathered inside St Peter's Church in the city centre to pay their respects, say prayers and light candles in memory of the victims.

Paul Williams, the Bishop of Nottingham and Southwell, described today as a "very difficult day" for the area.

"It’s a truly horrendous, tragic incident and my heart, my thoughts and my prayers go out to those who are directly affected," he said.

"The city will share the shock and the dismay of what’s happened."

Read More: 'A truly horrendous, tragic incident': Hundreds gather for vigil to pay tribute to victims of Nottingham attack

It came after Nottingham University confirmed two of their students were victims.

A spokesperson said: "It is with great sadness that we confirm the sudden and unexpected death of two of our students following a major incident in Nottingham city centre overnight.

"We are shocked and devastated by the news and our thoughts are with those affected, their families and friends. We know this is likely to cause distress for staff and students in our community."

Read More: Three killed and others injured after van tries to run people over in Nottingham as man arrested for murder

Home Secretary Suella Braverman also expressed shock at the attack.

She said: "First of all, I want to say how shocked and saddened I am that three people have lost their lives earlier today in Nottingham and that further individuals have been injured in this tragic incident.

"My thoughts first and foremost are with all of those who have been involved, their friends, their families and their communities.

"I want to thank the emergency services for their rapid response. They're working around the clock to keep people safe and we're incredibly grateful for their efforts."

Barnaby was on the way home from a night out with a female student
Barnaby was on the way home from a night out with a female student. Picture: Facebook

Earlier in the day, a student told the Daily Telegraph: "They just got unlucky. They were five minutes from home and got stabbed by a random guy."

A witness said he saw a young man and woman get stabbed in Ilkeston Road, west of the city centre, at about 4am, before the attacker calmly walked off.

The witness, who did not give his name, said: "Being a hot night, I had the window open and I just heard some awful, blood-curdling screams.

"It's often quite busy with people coming back from town and you get the usual boyfriend-girlfriend arguments, so I thought it was something like that."

When he looked out of his window, he saw a "black guy dressed all in black with a hood and rucksack grappling with some people".

"She was screaming 'Help!' I just wish I'd shouted something out of the window to unnerve the assailant," he told the BBC.

"I saw him stab the lad first and then the woman. It was repeated stabbing - four or five times. The lad collapsed in the middle of the road."

Armed police have been seen carrying out a raid on a property on Ilkeston Road, where the first two victims were found dead in the street. Two women were seen being led into a police van by counter-terror police.

Mohammed Qasim and Nisar Ahmed, who work at Xclusive Hair Studio next door to a property on Ilkeston Road where uniformed officers are stood outside, said the property had been raided last year.

Mr Qasim said they were in the shop when the property was raided.

"The for sale sign has been up for about two-three months.

"We haven't seen anyone since," he said.

Another witness Joshua Fenner, told LBC: “I woke up about 5.30am and I heard shouting outside. We get stuff like that all the time.

“Outside my window I see a police car and a policeman running towards what seems to be a white van still parked at the end of our road.

“The policeman was shouting 'get out of the car.'"

The van was stopped and a man detained by police
The van was stopped and a man detained by police. Picture: Alamy

How the attacks unfolded

4am - Male attacker stabs a young man and a young woman on Ilkeston Road. Police later found two people dead.

5.10am - Man found dead on Magdala road after reports of 'screaming'. A resident believes what he heard was the sound of the body being discovered.

5.30am - Man in a white van - believed to have been stolen from victim - hits people at around 5.30am on Milton Street near the Theatre Royal.

5.40am - Witness Kane Brady wakes up to 'gunshots' and sees a person tasered, dragged out of a van and arrested.

Student in Nottingham recounts what he saw amid serious incident

Armed police swept on Nottingham
Armed police swept on Nottingham. Picture: Alamy
Police described the incident as horrific
Police described the incident as horrific. Picture: Alamy

The deaths have shocked the city, which woke up to swathes of the centre shut down due to the police cordons.

A resident in Ilkeston Road said he was was asked for CCTV footage by a policewoman "banging on my door" about 5am.

The man, who called himself Wayne, said he had not seen anything.

Nottinghamshire Police's Chief Constable Kate Meynell said it was "an horrific and tragic incident" and the deaths are all thought to be linked.

Rishi Sunak said he was being kept updated and called it a "shocking incident".

The city's three Labour MPs, Nadia Whittome, Lilian Greenwood and Alex Norris, said Nottingham had been "devastated" by the deaths.

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