Dad ‘who chose the wrong path in life’ lay dead in park for weeks

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A loving son and father who "chose the wrong path in life" lay dead in a public park for weeks after being reported missing.

John Dickens, 47, known by his nickname 'John John', was found at around 12.55pm on April 21, in an area of parkland off Great Nelson Street, Liverpool City Centre, close to the Wallasey Tunnel and Bestway Cash and Carry.

Dad-of-two John was last seen alive on February 9, when he spoke to his mum, Ada Dickens, and gave her £25 that he owed.

Ada told the ECHO John had a troubled life, but on good days was the "nicest person you could meet" and on February 9 was in good spirits, having just been paid.

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She said: "He would visit me most days, I just wish he was coming back.

"He took the wrong path and he could just not get off it. He got on drugs when he was about 16, and he has been to prison. I would always visit him when he was there.

"The drugs took over but you could not meet a nicer person. He was never a bully or a fighter or anything like that.

A police presence remained on Great Nelson Street near Kingsway Park after a man was found dead in bushes

"He would always be like 'do you need any help with that?', the staff at the YMCA would tell me he was always helping out with things."

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Ada described how John was a pillar of support when she battled cancer in 2013; making her meals and helping with children and grandchildren.

She said John's health and addiction problems had begun to take their toll in recent years, and she described how he appeared to be "stumbling" more.

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Ada said she was told by police John had not returned to his flat after the last sighting of him, where a newspaper from that day was found, and he was believed to have died shortly afterwards.

Investigations into the cause of his death, including toxicology, are underway.

John was not sleeping rough when he died, having moved into a flat on Netherfield Road, Everton, shortly before Christmas.

If you have been affected by any of the details mentioned in this story there are people who can help you.

Most people grieve when they lose something or someone important to them.

The way grief affects you depends on lots of things, including what kind of loss you have suffered, your upbringing, your beliefs or religion, your age, your relationships, and your physical and mental health.

Grieving is a totally normal process but there are way to get help if you need support.

Your GP is a good place to start. They can give you advice about other support services, refer you to a counsellor, or prescribe medication if needed.

Or you can contact support organisations directly, such as Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677) Samaritans (116 123) or Love Jasmine.

However he had a history of homelessness, and the ECHO understands his death will be subject to a multi-agency review involving Liverpool Council and NHS services.

Michelle Langan, founder of homelessness support charity The Papercup Project, said John was a well known figure.

47-year-old John Dickens (known as John John)

She told the ECHO: "This is extremely sad news. John was a well known face in the homeless community, and known to our team on and off over the years.

"It's a long and complex journey to assist someone out of homelessness, and without intensive support its easy for people to find it overwhelming to cope and adapt.

"We will be thinking of John's family and friends."

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Merseyside Police said the death was not being treated as suspicious and a file has been passed to the coroner's office.

A spokesman from Liverpool Council said: "We are deeply saddened by this death and our thoughts are with the man’s family at this time.

"We are heartened by the overwhelming support given by his accommodation support workers."

If you are worried about someone who is sleeping rough, call the 24-hour ‘Always Help Available’ helpline on 0300 123 2041. You can also make an online referral.

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