THE man who was found in an Oxford churchyard last week was homeless, the Oxford Mail has learned.

His death is the latest in a series this winter in the city, with the homeless community rocked by five other fatalities since November.

UPDATE: Oxford churchyard death: Questions over homeless man mystery

Police have confirmed that the unnamed man, whose next of kin have been informed of his death, was in his 60s, but they have refused to reveal further details.

However, the Mail understands that the man was sleeping rough at St Frideswide Church on Botley Road and was found alive, before being taken to the John Radcliffe Hospital. It is not known exactly where or at what time he died.

It is understood that drugs paraphernalia were found nearby and that the area has been frequently used by rough sleepers.


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Police were called to the scene at 10.30pm on Tuesday, February 5 and blue forensic tents were quickly erected outside the church and a guarded cordon put in place.

Oxford Mail:

Officers combed the area looking for evidence but, after declaring it a crime scene, say they are now treating the death as ‘unexplained and non-suspicious’.

Yet the man’s identity remains a mystery and is only likely to be revealed when an inquest takes place. Police said last week that they were keeping ‘an open mind’ over the incident and scant other details about the victim have emerged, with the homeless community largely unclear about who the man was.

Monica Gregory, from Women’s Hope Forum, who is well known in the homeless community, said: “I have asked around but [don’t know who it is] it is strange that no one knows about it.

Oxford Mail:

“I know there was a lot of rough sleepers that used to sleep around that area. They used to go down under the little bridge bit.

“But I don’t know who it was that died. None of the homeless community have said anything either, which is unusual.”

The death follows those of Sharron Maasz, Aron Gibson and Czeslaw ('Chester') Mazak, who were homeless. The council said they were temporarily accommodated through an outreach project.

Other reports have also referred to a man named 'Simon' but Oxford City Council claim both he and Otis Galloway were not homeless when they died.

This week the Mail published an investigation into the homelessness crisis, with the city council announcing that it would launch a ‘review’ into the deaths. It came as a heart-breaking video of Ms Maasz speaking in 2012 came to light.

Various members of the homeless community called on the council to provide more wide-ranging support to those in need.


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One city councillor said the issue brought ‘shame’ on the city, while the head of Homeless Oxfordshire has said the deaths are a ‘stark reality’ and‘should not be happening’.

Speaking about the latest incident, the council’s deputy leader Linda Smith, who is also board member for housing, said: “Thames Valley Police (TVP) have not confirmed the name of the man recently found dead in St Frideswide churchyard to us, or whether or not he was a rough sleeper. We have asked the Oxfordshire Safeguarding Adults Board to consider a review of recent deaths of people who were or who had formerly been rough sleepers.

Oxford Mail:

“When the police have confirmed the circumstances we will include his case in our referral to the Adult Safeguarding Board if appropriate.”

The city council added that it had ‘no more information as TVP are responsible for the investigation and they haven’t shared any findings with us.’

TVP spokesman David Marsh said: “This incident is now being treated as unexplained and non-suspicious and is a matter for the coroner.”


- Body found at St Frideswide Church, Botley Road, Oxford

- Police 'keeping an open mind' after man's body found at St Frideswide Church

In March last year, police described the churchyard as a 'hot spot' for drug dealing and said a hedge had been planted to help ease the issue.

Clare Sykes, the rector at St Frideswell, said the church had no further information or updates following what they had previously said.

She added: “We are remembering the family of the deceased in our prayers.”

Anyone with any information relating to the incident is asked to call 101, quoting URN 1367 5/2.

Oxford Mail:

Shaista Aziz, a co-founder of the Labour Homelessness Campaign and an Oxford City Councillor, said: “Each death on the streets of our city is devastating and shouldn’t happen. All death should be officially counted, acknowledged and investigated.

"Homeless people’s lives matter." 

A memorial to those who have died will be held in St Aldates Church tomorrow.

A Christmas Match Fund campaign backed by the Mail raised £88,000 for rough sleepers.