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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Stephen Topping & James Campbell

Rough sleeper, 41, at centre of emotional family reunion in Manchester dies next to his dog outside Costa

A much-loved rough sleeper who was reunited with his family four years ago in Manchester after a mass appeal has tragically died. Jon Ellerington was found dead outside a Costa Coffee branch in his home city of Hull on December 18 last year.

The 41-year-old was seen making a final bed for his faithful Jack Russell named Teddy just hours before dying in the night, Hull Live reports. Four years earlier, Jon had travelled to Manchester, where he was believed to be rough sleeping.

One of Jon's sisters made a plea in 2018 for help finding Jon to the Manchester Homeless Outreach group. She told Alan Morris, the group's founder, to look out for a missing finger on Jon's hand.

READ MORE: Tragedy of baker who became homeless and died after tearing his oesophagus

He told the Manchester Evening News : "Weeks later we bumped into him late at night and he asked to put his own sugar in his brew. That's when I noticed his index finger missing."

Alan posted a photo on Facebook with Jon after meeting him in March 2018 as he tried to get back in touch with his sister. It led to Jon being reunited with his loved ones.

The image shared on the Manchester Homeless Group page on Facebook (Facebook)

Alan added: "I told him he had family asking about him, we bought him a phone and put his sister's number in there and ended up getting him home to Hull." Jon's return in the spring of 2018 came at a joyous time for the family.

Sammi Ellerington, one of Jon's sisters, told the M.E.N. : "He did go to Manchester for a few months. As we couldn’t find him and was sleeping rough over there, we did track him down and bring him back home right in time to meet my son [who was] just born."

But tragically, just a few years later Jon was found dead on one of the streets of his hometown. An inquest into Jon's death heard how CCTV footage showed him appearing to slump and lose consciousness just days before Christmas last year.

Over the next few hours, several people tried to check on Jon and two men even left food for him. Sadly, he was found lifeless on the pavement the following morning.

'He was such a loveable guy'

Jon came from a big family with seven siblings and he would look after his nephews and nieces. He had desperately tried to kick a drug habit so he could see his daughter, the inquest heard last Thursday (November 24).

Although he was often seen sleeping on the streets next to Teddy, Jon had also lived at a home in the Gipsyville area of Hull with his partner. Following his death in Ferensway on December 18 last year, a post-mortem examination found Jon had potentially lethal levels of heroin in his system, along with evidence of different painkillers.

Describing his brother as a 'loveable guy', another of Jon's sisters said: “Jon did get off the drugs from time to time and would go cold turkey, but it would never last. He actually got clean for two years because he wanted to stay in touch with his daughter. During that time he managed to get work at Wren Kitchens and Crown Paints."

Jon Ellerington who was found dead outside a Costa Coffee shop in Hull (Hull Live)

In a statement, she added: "He would also look after my boys sometimes. He was such a loveable guy and was always seen as the fun uncle. He was also a bit of a joker.”

His sister said Jon 'didn’t like school much' and believed an incident there was partly to blame for his later addiction, but he was 'clever and enjoyed maths and history'. Many who had seen Jon in the city centre assumed he was homeless as he would often be seen sleeping rough, and although he had a supportive family, he never challenged assumptions made by those who approached him offering help.

Shortly after his death, Hull Live was told a desperate bid was made to find shelter for Jon just days before he was found dead, after a passer-by was concerned by his plight in the cold temperatures. Sophia Jama tried to ensure Jon had accommodation after he told her he had been sleeping rough near the Anlaby Road flyover.

But after contacting Hull City Council and homeless charity Emmaus she said she was told there was no accommodation available because Jon was with Teddy. At the time Hull City Council expressed its condolences to Jon's family and stressed that provision was available for those with pets and who were homeless or at risk of homelessness.

Emmaus also issued a statement saying it believed Jon had access to accommodation before the tragedy. His sister said Jon visited her the day before he died and was a bit worse for wear. He was bumping into things and she asked him to leave, but it was all good humoured.

She said Jon suffered with mental and physical issues due to his drug addiction and there were fears he could lose a leg. In his attempts to get clean, Jon turned to the drug and alcohol service Renew.

Jonathon Ellerington, known to most as Jon, would have turned 42 in February (Sammi Ellerington)

He was in regular contact and told them he had only taken heroin once, in December last year, while his drug use in the six months before he died was minimal. He also said he had no thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

Evidence was also heard from the Costa Cafe worker who found Jon on the morning of December 18. When she turned up she saw what she thought was a bundle of clothing outside.

She went outside later for a cigarette break and then realised someone was lying there, but she did not want to disturb him. However, when she went back out a short time later to open up, she saw Jon had not moved and went over to check on him. She realised he was dead.

Humberside Police investigated Jon’s death. There had been an incident outside the Royal Hotel the day before, and CCTV showed Jon appearing to approach security staff before shouting abuse. He was ushered away and there was no evidence of any violence.

CCTV footage also showed Jon arriving outside Costa and sitting down on the evening of December 17. He could be seen making up his bed, and a bed for his dog Teddy.

At around 8.30pm he could be seen slumping and appearing to lose consciousness. Over the next few hours the footage showed a number of people approaching Jon to check on him, with a few interacting with his dog.

Floral tributes left after his death (HullLive/MEN)

At one point two men left a bag of takeaway food for him. At no point was anyone hostile or violent towards him.

Floral tributes were left at the site where Jon died. It was later revealed his dog Teddy had been taken in by members of Jon’s family.

Lorraine Harris, the area coroner, decided there was no evidence Jon intended to end his life and concluded his death was 'drug related'. Several family members and Jon’s partner attended the inquest, which was noted by Mrs Harris.

Mrs Harris said: “My sincere condolences go to his family, partner and everyone else who knew Jon. Seeing so many people here today is an indication of just how much he was loved. It is clear just how much so many people cared for him.”

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