'There weren't many like him': friend of Nottingham stabbing victim Ian Coates pays tribute to 'pillar of the community'

15 June 2023, 17:18 | Updated: 15 June 2023, 17:22

Ian Coates' friend has paid tribute
Ian Coates' friend has paid tribute. Picture: Facebook/LBC

By Kit Heren

A friend of Ian Coates, one of three victims of the Nottingham stabbings on Tuesday, has hailed him as a "pillar of the community" as he recalled how he helped him at school.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Three people - Mr Coates, 65, Barnaby Webber and Grace Kumar - were killed and three more injured in a stabbing and van attack in the city in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Mr Coates' friend Ben Dutton paid tribute to Mr Coates, and told LBC how the older man introduced him to fishing while he was a caretaker at his school - which Mr Dutton has since pursued professionally.

"He basically set up a small fishing club for the lads that didn't want to do much else," Mr Dutton said. "And not just for them - for anyone that was just interested in the sport.

"And he set up a small fishing club within our school and progressed as on from there, taking us all around the country out of his own pocket".

Listen and subscribe to Unprecedented: Inside Downing Street on Global Player

Ian Coates' friend pays tribute

Mr Dutton said that Mr Coates paid for the coaches, gave out fishing tackle and made sure "that we did something that we loved".

He added: "And I've remained friends with him all the way through there." Mr Dutton later became a match angler and set up his own angling centre. He said that he rekindled his friendship with Mr Coates and they had been friends ever since.

"And then came and fished for me, which was fantastic. And the icing on the cake, really.

"He was just a fantastic bloke that literally would do anything for anybody... he would do anything fishing for the kids."

Read more: Heartbroken family of Grace Kumar pay tribute to 'wonderful and beautiful' student killed in Nottingham

Read more: 'Beautiful, brilliant, young man': Family's tribute to student killed in Nottingham attack in 'senseless murder'

Ian Coates
Ian Coates. Picture: Handout
Ian Coates who was killed in Nottingham yesterday
Ian Coates who was killed in Nottingham yesterday. Picture: social media

Mr Dutton said that his father died when he was young, and Mr Coates and his fishing trips had helped him.

"If it wasn't for him I probably wouldn't be in this job now. I wouldn't be doing what I did."

Mr Dutton added that he was two weeks away from going fishing with Mr Coates, whom he described as a "pillar of the community".

"He's a great character - like he never had his teeth in, which always used to make me giggle.

The Nottingham suspect
The Nottingham suspect being arrested. Picture: ITV

"I'd come in, he'd be...whistling everywhere and he loved a coffee, loved a smoke and loved a swear word.

"But he was just fantastic. Just an absolute pillar of the community. And I mean that for what he's done for children, adults, and fishing and for sport in Nottingham.

"There isn't many that have done as much as he's done for people."

Read more: Nottingham attack suspect named as engineering graduate at same university of two victims

Read more: Nottingham killings suspect was student at same university as two victims, as police get extra 36 hours to question him

Grace Kumar
Grace Kumar. Picture: social media
Barnaby Webber
Barnaby Webber. Picture: Handout

It comes as another vigil is set to be held on Thursday evening for Mr Coates, Barnaby and Grace - who were University of Nottingham students.

Police are continuing to question the suspect, who is a 31-year-old University of Nottingham mechanical engineering graduate.