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Mystery over what killed rough sleeping ‘acid attack’ hero who died in Ilford flat

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 December 2018

L to R: Justine Turvey and homeless hero Paul (Picture: Justine Turvey)

L to R: Justine Turvey and homeless hero Paul (Picture: Justine Turvey)

Justine Turvey

A former rough sleeper who rushed to the aid of a teenager injured in an ‘acid attack’ in Stratford died in his Ilford flat less than a year later.

Paul Andrews, 58, was found dead on June 10 after neighbours alerted police he had not been seen for several days.

Officers forced their way into his first-floor flat in Redcliffe Gardens, Ilford, following unanswered knocks on a door locked from the inside.

Entering the studio apartment, they saw his decomposed body lying on the bed, confirming his identity with documents found on his bedside table and inside his backpack.

Because of the decomposition an inquest last week into his death was unable to say what had happened.

Mr Andrews was admitted to Newham University Hospital numerous times in the months preceding his death owing to “poorly controlled diabetes” and substance misuse issues, Walthamstow Coroner’s Court heard.

Born in West Ham, he became homeless after his mother’s death, sleeping rough at the Stratford Centre shopping mall.

Friends remembered him as a selfless figure who regularly looked after some of the scores seeking shelter there each night, even helping shop staff with their daily duties.

It was here in September last year two teenagers were attacked by a group of youths as they left the centre.

The gang punched and kicked them before spraying a noxious liquid in their faces, which also hit bystanders.

As the suspects fled, Mr Andrews led one of the boys to a fast foot outlet’s toilet, running his eyes and skin under a cold water tap.

None of those struck suffered life-changing or life-threatening injuries, police said.

A crowdfunding campaign by the victim’s mother, Justine Turvey, raised more than £1,400 for his bed and board by way of thanks.

At the time of his passing, Mr Andrews was working in a furniture shop and had just found accommodation at the flat.

Returning an open verdict, senior coroner Nadia Persaud said “the extent of decomposition” left post-mortem tests unable to establish a cause of death.

“Police deemed the circumstances unexplained, but not suspicious,” she added.

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Redbridge Together

Redbridge Together, of which the Recorder is a media partner, aims to raise £500,000 for Project Malachi and The Welcome Centre.

Project Malachi will see the creation of a temporary hostel for rough sleepers and homeless people made from recycled shipping containers in Chadwick Road.

Support workers from charity Ramfel will provide rough sleepers living in the hostel with immigration advice who need it.

The Welcome Centre, in St Mary’s Road, helps with providing hot meals, showers, clothing, laundry but also advice and support, training and employment and a nurse led clinic supporting health and mental health.

Businesses can support by donating money, raising funds, displaying Redbridge Together promotional material in businesses or offering work placements.

To get involved email: aaron.walawalkar@archant.co.uk

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