Homeless Man Dies After Local Council Confiscates His Sleeping Bag
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A homeless man was found dead in a car park yesterday after the local council took his sleeping bag away, it has been claimed.
The 66-year-old rough sleeper, only known by his first name 'Kev', was found dead under an overpass in a car park in Bournemouth, Dorset, south-west England.
According to a friend of the man who discovered his body, officials from Bournemouth Borough Council had 'removed his sleeping bag and possessions' just days earlier, as reported in the Metro.
The unnamed friend, who said he had known Kev for a year and a half, said: "I put my hand on him to shake him and that's when I knew something was wrong and my heart sank.
"A couple of weeks ago he said the council took his sleeping bag. They see it as rubbish but they don't realise these are homeless people; sleeping bags are the stuff that keeps them warm."
The pair met after they got chatting, when the friend saw Kev sitting on a wall at the corner of a road during his daily commute to work. The friend said that Kev was not known for drinking or taking drugs and never 'asked for anything' from him.
"I wondered, if I gave him some money, would it go on drugs and alcohol but to be honest he never did any of that, just smoked roll-ups," the friend said.
"He never, ever asked for anything from me."
Bournemouth Borough Council has previously been criticised for its measures targeting the homeless. These include buying rough sleepers one-way tickets to leave the town and playing bagpipe music to stop people sleeping near the town's transport stations.
A spokesperson for the council said they were 'aware' of Kev's death but declined to comment on the allegations that his sleeping bag had been removed.
"We are aware of the very sad news at Braidley Road," the spokesperson said. "The identity of the deceased man has not yet been confirmed by the police and as such we are unable to comment further at this stage."
Claire Matthews, the founder of local homeless charity Hope For Food, said that the charity regularly hands out sleeping bags to the homeless. However, she also reported hearing reports of the council removing the bags.
She described Kev as a 'lovely man' who regularly attended their soup kitchen and never caused any bother.
"Kevin was a lovely man, he came to the soup kitchen four days a week, never asked for anything and was always grateful for what he got," said Ms Matthews, who founded the charity five years ago.
"We give out sleeping bags to homeless people and we've been told by some of them the council has removed them to clean up the streets. More needs to be done to help these people."
A spokesman for Dorset Police said: "At 8.31am on Monday Dorset Police were called by the ambulance service to reports of a sudden death after the body of a man was located in Braidley Road car park in Bournemouth.
"It is not believed there are any suspicious circumstances and the coroner has been informed."
People have reacted angrily to news of Kev's death online on Twitter, calling the council's conduct tantamount to 'murder' or 'manslaughter'.
"Surely, in law, this is manslaughter," tweeted one reader, while another added: "How can any decent human being take a homeless person sleeping bag....? Someone must be held accountable for this poor man's death."
Meanwhile, a third simply posted: "MURDER."