A HOMELESS man found dead in a Malvern doorway had been repeatedly offered temporary accommodation by the council after officers evicted him from a caravan, it has emerged.

Malvern Hills District Council evicted Paul 'Joby' Sparrey from the 'illegally abandoned caravan' near Malvern Link rail station in November after police had received complaints about drug taking and anti-social behaviour there.

A spokesman for the council said that Mr Sparrey was repeatedly offered temporary accommodation but he refused.

He was found dead outside Brays department store in Worcester Road, Malvern on Christmas Day. An inquest into his death is due to take place on May 17.

A former district councillor, who did not want to be named, told the Gazette that Mr Sparrey had mental health issues which may have driven him to refuse accommodation offers.

"He was someone who we know had suffered from mental health problems in the past, and the thought that this may have contributed to his becoming homeless is shocking," said the ex councillor.

"Councillors have told me they are frightened to say anything about it, especially with the local elections coming up in May."

Stephen Gabriel, head of housing and communities for Malvern Hills District Council, said: “We were asked by West Mercia Police to investigate a site involving an illegally abandoned caravan due to significant concern from the public.

"The caravan was in a dilapidated state, had graffiti on it and was being used for illegal drug activity as well as being a magnet for anti-social behaviour.

"After engaging with the landowner we eventually took action to have the caravan removed towards the end of last year to protect the wider community.

"On the day we arrived to remove the caravan, two men were present on the site who our officers, who had visited on many occasions, had not seen before.

"The removal of the caravan was halted while discussions took place with our housing team.

"It was confirmed one of the men had accommodation and an offer of temporary housing and further support was made to the other, who was Mr Sparrey, which was refused.

"In the weeks leading up to his death our housing team continued to engage with Mr Sparrey and emergency accommodation and support was offered a further five times and was refused on each occasion. A further appointment to discuss how we could support him had been scheduled for December 27.

“All of this information and the circumstances surrounding Mr Sparrey’s death have been submitted to the Worcestershire Adult Safeguarding Board who will decide if a review is needed. If not, then we have already committed to commissioning an independent review that will examine the facts and decide if there are any lessons that can be learnt.

"In either case the intention is, and always was, to publish the findings of any review to ensure the public is fully informed.

“As was stated at the time, we want to take a more rigorous approach to how we tackle rough sleeping and that’s why we brought representatives from a wide range of sectors together to discuss how we do that at our expert panel event in February.

"We’ve also secured support from all Worcestershire council leaders to progress with the development of a new model to enhance the way we support rough sleepers.”