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24 May 2014, 10:00
The family of a Wolverhampton man police believe was murdered are pleading for help to find his killer.
The 54-year-old father and grandfather Stephen Philips was found dead with head injuries at his home on Dudley Road, Blakenhall on 12 March.
Following a post mortem detectives launched a murder inquiry and strongly believe that he was attacked and robbed on a Blakenhall street the previous night, before walking home where he later collapsed and died.
A £5,000 reward for information that will lead to the arrest and conviction of his killer has also been offered by the independent charity Crimestoppers.
Stephen’s partner Tina Furey, his daughter Tara Phillips and Stephen’s sister Margaret Moore are determined to fight for justice for Stephen and have issued a heartfelt plea for information.
They said, "Stephen was a jovial, happy go lucky man and was really well known in the area. He was a comedian and made everyone laugh.
"He was always seen in the area walking his beloved dog Beauty and everyone knew him as the man with the dog."
The family talked about the last time they saw Stephen which was the day before his body was discovered.
Tara, Stephen’s daughter, continues: "Mum was having her hair cut and the whole family was sitting together with my Dad and they were picking horses for the Cheltenham races.
"My brother’s dog was really poorly and we had just been told that the dog had been put to sleep and we all went to his house together as a family to offer support.
"My dad was a huge dog lover and he shed a few tears for the dog. He brought Beauty home as a puppy around seven years ago and they were devoted to each other - they were inseparable - she has not been the same since he died and has been really quiet."
Tina, Stephen’s partner, goes on to say: "We are all heartbroken, devastated and ripped apart by what has happened to Stephen.
"This is an evil act and for no apparent reason he has been taken from us and his six children, especially the younger ones, have been left devastated.
"He has three grandchildren and he will not be here to see the arrival of his fourth grandchild which is due in June."
The family now need people to come forward with information.
They said: "Anybody who knows anything please come forward. We need this as a family - we need to know how and why this happened. Somebody out there knows something and this has ruined our lives.
"Our happiest memories as a family are of us spending many summer holidays in Cornwall. We were planning a fresh start and were going to move to Cornwall next year.
"We are angry that this has been taken away from us - but we are determined to stay here until we know what happened to Stephen."
Tina added: "The last phone call I had from Stephen was on the night he died and he told me he loved me. I never realised how much I loved him until he was gone.
"I would also say to the person who killed Stephen - you were man enough to kill him, be man enough to come forward - how can you walk around knowing what you have done?"
Detective Inspector Justin Spanner, from Force CID, based at Bloxwich police station, said: "The 11 March was the first day of Cheltenham races and Arsenal was knocked out the Champions League after drawing 1-1 to Bayern Munich.
"I think it is really important to mention this as it may jog people’s memories. I want anyone who saw Stephen in the Blakenhall area that night to call me or my team with any information.
"I believe that the answer to how Stephen died lies within the community. Stephen was born, lived, worked and died in the area and this appeal is not about helping the police it is about helping the family of Stephen, they deserve to know what happened to their loved one."
Four people have been arrested in connection with the murder inquiry. Two men aged 22 and 56 were arrested on suspicion of murder and later released on police bail pending further enquiries.
An 18-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and is currently on police bail and a 56-year-old woman was released without charge after being arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods.