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Tributes paid to Herne Bay man Stefan Pursell following death in Canterbury toilet block

Stefan Pursell was found dead in public toilets in Canterbury on May 4.
Stefan Pursell was found dead in public toilets in Canterbury on May 4.

by Gerry Warren

The family of a 32-year-old man found dead in a public toilet in the city centre on Tuesday say they tried desperately to get him off drugs.

Stefan Pursell’s body was discovered in a cubicle in Canterbury Lane by a Serco worker as he went to close the block for the evening. His death is not being treated as suspicious but is thought to be drug-related.

A drug user for many years who often appeared in court for stealing to feed his habit, Mr Pursell was living temporarily in Greenhill Gardens, Herne Bay, at the time of his death.

But he was well known in Canterbury and had used the services of both the Canterbury Open Centre and Porchlight, which both tried to help him with his problems.

His mother, Liz Pursell, of Grafton Rise, Herne Bay, and brother, Vince Carden, 28, say they both tried to get him off heroin, which they blamed for his problems.

Mrs Pursell said: “He had difficulties right from a child when he was expelled from Hersden primary at the age of five.”

He then went to Joy Lane School in Whitstable but began having epileptic fits and eventually ended up at a special school in Bath.

She added: “That’s when he was introduced to drugs. We later got him into St Martin’s Hospital, but he was never violent.”

Mr Pursell, who also has a sister, Stephanie, 30, had lived in Love Street Close before recently moving out. He is among several drug users who have been found dead in public toilets in Canterbury in recent years.

Terry Gore of the Canterbury Open Centre said: “We are sad to hear of his death. We had not seen Stefan for about a year but some time before that we managed to get him re-settled in Herne Bay."

Police say the death had been reported to the coroner and an inquest will be opened in the next few days.

More reaction in this week's Kentish Gazette.

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