'He wasn't just homeless - he was a family man': Heartbroken friends pay tribute to David Hastings after car park stabbing
PUBLISHED: 18:05 26 June 2018 | UPDATED: 08:03 27 June 2018
The heartbroken friends of a homeless man who was stabbed to death at Rose Lane car park at the weekend have told of their grief at the loss.
David Hastings was the victim of multiple stab wounds after an attack in the early hours of Saturday morning.
He had been with his new girlfriend at the time, and volunteers from the nearby SOS bus and security staff from the clubs battled in vain to save his life.
Mr Hastings, 48, was taken to hospital but died of his injuries later that day.
He had been sleeping rough for three or four months according to his tight-knit group of friends from the city, and would often be found sleeping nestled in the undergrowth along Riverside Walk, in a spot he called ‘Dave’s Cave’.
The evening before his death, Mr Hastings had been present at the engagement of two of his friends, Kelly Almond and Mick Peck.
Ms Almond, 35, said Dave had helped welcome her into the group when she found herself on the streets in Norwich.
“All of these guys welcomed me into their little group,” she said. “It is more like a family than a friendship to be honest.
“He wasn’t just homeless - he was a friend and a family man. He was someone who was loved. We are not just a group of friends, we are a little community.
“We all look out for each other and he was a big part of that. Just because he was homeless doesn’t mean there should be any stigma about it. He was just happy being himself, just being free. He had just got into a new relationship as well which he was over the moon with. Chivalry was never dead when Dave was about. It is just heartbreaking.
“I am so proud to have met him and I am going to miss him forever.”
The band of friends visited Mr Hasting’s favourite bench on Riverside Walk on Tuesday before laying flowers and tributes at the scene of his death.
The flowers were donated by a stall holder on Norwich market, and the photo was framed for free by Jessop’s.
Mr Peck, 42, added: “Now that everyone can put a face to a name people are starting to grieve. Often if you are homeless you are forgotten.
“We all come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. Everyone has a story to tell and at the end of the day we are all still human.
“I know he is gone in body but he is always here in spirit.”
While he was on the streets of Norwich, Mr Hastings was closest to best friend Taffy Wheeler, 46.
He said of Mr Hastings: “He was as mad as a hatter but he was one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet.
“He got on with everyone, and if anyone could make you smile, it would be Davey.”
Paul Helmer said he had known Dave for over 20 years, since the “old rave days”, and that his loss would leave “a huge hole in our community”.
“I have never seen him anything but happy - you would not find a nicer bloke,” he said. “You could trust him with anything and he was always laughing and joking.
“It is absolutely devastating. It has left a huge hole in our community, not just those of us here. He was brilliant and had a heart of gold. I wish there was more like him about.”
The group are hoping to put together some money to put a plaque with Dave’s name at his favourite bench.
Tributes have also been paid by Mr Hastings’ family.
His parents and children said in a statement: “David was a beloved son, brother, dad and grandad. He was always smiling and joking and will be missed by so many friends.
“We are absolutely devastated you have been taken away from us so soon. Sonny, we will miss you always, we love you so much and our hearts are broken.”
The tributes flooded in on the same day the man charged with Mr Hastings murder appeared before Norwich Crown Court.
Rolands Heinbergs, 22 of no fixed address, appeared at Norwich Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday, June 26) having been charged with the murder of David Hastings, of Long Row, Norwich.
Heinbergs, a Latvian who has a beard and wore a blue jumper, spoke only to confirm his details during the 10 minute hearing.
The court heard Heinbergs will have a medical report by the time of the next court appearance, a plea and trial preparation hearing, which is due to take place on August 13.
There was no application for bail.
Heinbergs was remanded in custody by Judge Anthony Bate until the next crown court hearing.
An inquest into the death is due to open on Wednesday morning.