Homeless man found dead in Wellingborough hotel

A homeless man has been found dead in a Wellingborough hotel.

By Sarah Ward
Friday, 3rd January 2020, 3:21 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd January 2020, 5:12 pm
Jonathan Upex was found dead at the Euro Hotel on New Years Eve.
Jonathan Upex was found dead at the Euro Hotel on New Years Eve.

Jonathan Upex, 46, was discovered on New Year’s Eve reportedly by a social worker and a staff member from the Euro Hotel in Midland Road.

Wendy Steele, who was a friend of Jonathan’s, was one of the last people to see him, after taking him lunch on Christmas Day. She raised the alarm after he had failed to respond to her when she went back on Boxing Day, or when she returned again on December 27. Wendy says there was no buzzer or bell outside the hotel to contact him and so she called social services, who referred her to the police, who then referred her back to social services.

Wendy said she had a feeling of foreboding that something had happened to her friend, whom she had first met when he was living rough in Wellingborough town centre this autumn.

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Jonathan pictured with Wendy Steele back in September when he had been sleeping rough in Wellingborough town centre.

She said: “If someone had gone and checked on him this might not have happened.

“I saw him on Christmas Day when he came along to my church for the service. He sat at the back, he looked fragile. So I went back to the Euro Hotel with him and washed up his plates and cutlery as remnants of food I had given him the week before had gone mouldy. I then went home and brought him back some of the roast beef I was having for Christmas lunch and said I would bring him back some tobacco tomorrow.

“But when I went back, I could not get in. There was no-one on reception – I went back several times on Boxing Day. I then called the police on the Friday, as I was not feeling good about it at all.”

Police say his death is being treated as a sudden death and there will not be a criminal investigation.

Jonathan, who had been in bad health, had been staying in the Euro Hotel after being offered accommodation there by East Northants Council.

In an interview with the Local Democracy Reporting Service in September while he was living on the streets of Wellingborough, Jonathan said he had found himself homeless after leaving prison. He had lost his tenancy in Rushden after going to jail and had nowhere to go when released. He had mental health problems and had wanted a mental health assessment.

In a statement Northamptonshire Police have said that after Wendy Steele’s call on December 27, they decided not to attend.

They said: “In this case, the caller was advised by social services to contact us, however following a review of the circumstances by a police control room inspector it was decided the criteria under Section 17 was not met.

“This meant we couldn’t justify forcing entry to the property. The caller was advised of this decision. Our thoughts are with the man’s family at this extremely difficult time.”

It is understood Jonathan had recently been discharged from hospital after tripping on his bed sheets.

Wendy Steele said he had recently been treated for a stroke at Kettering General Hospital and he had a number of health problems, including spondylitis – a condition that causes inflammation of the back joints.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council, which runs adult social services, said: “We are aware of the sad death of Mr Upex who was not currently in receipt of social care.

“We are working with other agencies now though to look into this and will follow due process.”

The authority would not confirm whether a staff member had attended the hotel on December 31 . Email correspondence seen from Euro Hotel owners The Housing Network says that a social worker had attended with a staff member and had found Jonathan.

Jonathan’s death is the fifth homeless death in north Northamptonshire since 2016, according to figures compiled by housing officers and reported in the new rough sleeping strategy. Four of the deaths have happened while in temporary accommodation.

John Holland died in October last year after sleeping rough in Corby’s West Glebe Park. Two months later a Wellingborough man who had been rough sleeping also died.

Councils have a statutory duty under the homeless reduction act to help people who are homeless.

Wellingborough has a night shelter run by volunteers as well as the daylight centre which provides support and the council is looking into buying a property to help house vulnerable people.