Man found dead on Ilford pavement was ‘rough sleeper’

A rough sleeper found dead on an Ilford pavement had sought shelter at a day centre just a week earlier.

The 45-year-old, named �locally as Leonard, had twice visited the Welcome Centre in Green Lane, Ilford, last month.

Its manager Sonia Lynch said: “I think he came for a bit of support. He had a shower, he was given a change of clothes, had something to eat, and then he set off again. He didn’t say much but we cared for him while he was here.”

Police say they are not treating the British-born man’s death as suspicious, but have been unable to track down his next of kin. A post-mortem examination has not yet been carried out.

Leonard was discovered in front of the disused Ilford Baths in High Road on Tuesday of last week.

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Mrs Lynch said: “Redbridge housing took really good care of him, trying to keep him in housing. I think he used to wander off every so often, but Redbridge did their best to support him.

“The cold winter shelter opened [in Ilford] in December and he was told about that and where it was.

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“A bed was set aside for him because of his vulnerability but he didn’t come. At the end of the day, people have to make their own decision.” Leonard came into contact with the centre around 2007, and for much of 2011 was housed in a hostel in Tower Hamlets.

Mrs Lynch added: “In the five or six years I’ve been here, I’ve not known of a lot of deaths at all of rough sleepers in cold weather.”

She added that last year, when there was snow, the shelter was opened as quickly as possible.

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