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14 January 2011, 14:26 | Updated: 14 January 2011, 14:32
The family of Adrian Milner have paid tribute to the 48-year-old, describing him as a larger than life character whose death has left an immense hole in their lives.
Mr Milner was punched in the face as he walked home along Church Road in Murston, Sittingbourne, just before 7.53pm on Tuesday 28 December 2010.
Kent Police launched a murder investigation after he died in the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London 12 days later on Sunday afternoon 9 January 2011.
His brother Duncan Milner said: “The whole family is devastated. The last few days have been a roller coaster of emotions, from shock and heartbreak to anger.
“While Adrian was in a coma in hospital we were still hoping he would pull through and when we left him on the day before he died his nurses were being quite optimistic about his chances. But the next day he took a turn for the worse and he died that afternoon.”
Mr Milner said the family had been overwhelmed by people’s support and good wishes since the incident, and he paid tribute to hospital staff for doing everything they could to help his brother.
He said: “Adrian was well-known in Sittingbourne and was very popular with a big personality. No-one had a bad word to say about him.”
Mr Milner, known as Ada, was Sittingbourne born and bred. His parents, Albert and Sylvia, still live in the town, as does Duncan.
The brothers went to Tunstall Primary School and St John’s High School, now Sittingbourne Community College. After leaving school Mr Milner joined the building trade and remained in the trade for more than 30 years.
Last year he decided on a change of career and trained as an HGV driver, passing his test last March. He worked for London Kent Metals in Sittingbourne when he died.
He married Nicola in 1985 and the couple, who divorced 10 years ago, have two sons, Jason and Joshua, who said: “We are devastated to have lost our dad and it is still sinking in that he has gone. The void left by him can never be filled.”
Mr Milner lived with his partner Gemma Stuttard and her daughter Molly in Sittingbourne. Gemma said: “What I will miss most about Ada are his blue eyes and his infectious laugh.”
Eleven-year-old Molly added: “He was a lovely, caring man who made me laugh and never told me off.”
One of Mr Milner’s passions was motorbikes and for several years he and his son Joshua enjoyed grass track racing, travelling to competitions all over the South East.
His parents, Albert and Sylvia, said: “Adrian’s death has brought much sorrow and heartache to the whole family and his death has left a big hole in our lives. We love him and miss him so much.”
Mr Milner’s best friend Andy Clarke, who he had known for more than 40 years, added: “Ada was a true friend who never, ever let me down. We used to talk every morning and I still can’t believe that I will never be able to talk to him again.”
Kent Police are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to come forward as soon as possible. Detective Inspector Lee Whitehead said: “Mr Milner and his friend Michael Coomber had been for a drink in the New Inn that evening and were walking home along Church Road when a third man punched Mr Milner in the face. At this stage we believe it to be a completely unprovoked attack.
“This single blow caused Mr Milner to fall to the floor and hit the back of his head. He died from his injuries 12 days later.”
On Tuesday evening, exactly two weeks after the incident, officers were out in Murston talking to residents and passers-by, giving out 450 fliers asking for information.
DI Whitehead said: “I have a team of 20 detectives working exclusively on this investigation, all of whom are determined to find the culprit and bring him to justice.
“I urge anyone who has any information or was in the area on the evening of Tuesday 28 December to contact Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate on 01622 654852 or Kent Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”
Duncan Milner appealed to the offender to come forward: “I ask them or anyone close to them to consider how they would feel in our position.
“Nothing will bring Adrian back but at least if someone was brought to justice his death might be easier to accept and we would get some kind of closure.”