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Homelessness charity Catching Lives reveals rough sleeper Phillip Fox shot dead in his tent was ex-soldier

A rough sleeper shot dead in a tent was an ex-soldier refused a place on the council’s housing register.

Details of Phillip Fox’s tragic back story emerged as it was revealed the 60-year-old was killed by a shotgun blast.

Detectives launched a murder investigation after his decomposing body was found in woodland, having lain undiscovered for nine months.

The tent was pitched in a clearing amid trees
The tent was pitched in a clearing amid trees

A 26-year-old from Eltham, south east London, has been charged with his murder.

Mr Fox’s harrowing past can now be pieced together – culminating in his violent death behind a shop on the Riverside Retail Park in Wincheap.

Terry Gore, manager at the Catching Lives day centre for the homeless, said Mr Fox had occasionally turned to the charity in times of need.

Its records show Mr Fox had served with the Royal Scots regiment for six years – though it is not known when.

Mr Gore told the Gazette: “He was a pleasant, inoffensive guy. I got the impression he was something of a loner and didn’t really want to ask for help. We always find out if new clients have served in the Armed Forces.

“There’s help available – SSAFA, the British Legion. But he didn’t want to know. He said they wouldn’t be able to help him.”

Police initially treated the case as “non-suspicious” when Mr Fox’s body was found in a makeshift encampment, 50 yards behind B&M Bargains, on April 25.

Terry Gore manages the Catching Lives Day Centre
Terry Gore manages the Catching Lives Day Centre

His skeletal remains were in such a state of decomposition that detectives were unable to determine his gender.

Two weeks later, a postmortem examination revealed he had died from a shotgun wound and a man was charged with Mr Fox’s murder.

According to Catching Lives’ records, Mr Fox had told the team he had been in foster care from the age of four to 15.

He had served his country for six years, but also worked as a driver.

In 2010 he left his flat in Whitechapel, east London, following threats of violence. After a period in hostels and bed and breakfasts, he arrived in Canterbury. Mr Gore said: “We first had contact with him in 2014 – he’d been in the city four months by then. He had no obvious problems – no heavy drinking, no drugs, he said.

“He would stop by from time to time for some food or to do his laundry.”

Canterbury City Council has confirmed it was approached in March 2014 by Mr Fox, who asked to be placed on the housing register.

Serco workers clearing the site
Serco workers clearing the site

Larissa Reed, assistant director of direct services, said: “He approached us for housing support after he voluntarily left accommodation in London.

“A housing officer interviewed him but because he had no local connection we could not accept him on to the housing register.

“He had never resided in the area and had no family living here.”

City council spokesman Rob Davies added that ex-servicemen could qualify for an exemption to the local connection rule. It is not known why Mr Fox did not pursue the matter further.

Mr Gore said: “People have this perception when they see a homeless person and they often make assumptions. We’re trying to educate people. Homelessness can happen to anybody.”

n Richard Donovan, 26, was refused bail on Monday and remanded in custody charged with Mr Fox’s murder. He is due to appear at Maidstone Crown Court on June 3 for a plea and directions hearing.

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