Parents of skip-death homeless man tell how their 'beautiful boy' was ruined by drink and drugs

The grieving parents of a homeless man crushed to death in the back of a bin lorry have told how their 'beautiful boy' was destroyed by drink and drugs.

Stefan Tomkins, 31, was killed after he fell asleep in a refuse container as he sheltered from the rain. He was unable to escape when the bin was emptied into the back of a truck containing a powerful crusher.

Stefan is thought to have suffocated as the rubbish was packed around him. The truck collected waste from up to 70 sites around Stockport, Greater Manchester.

Stefan Tomkins
Stefan Tomkins

Tragic decline: Stefan Tomkins' cannabis and alcohol use began a downward spiral that saw him die a homeless drug addict

A worker at a tip in Ardwick, Manchester, noticed a leg sticking out of a digger's bucket just before it was about to be dumped on another truck bound for a landfill site.

Today, his grieving parents told how his life was ruined by drink and drugs and warned vagrants of the perils of sleeping in bins.

The couple, who have not been named, said: 'It's a very, very sad waste of a young life. We never stopped believing in him. We always believed he would change.'

No-one knows which of the bins at industrial and commercial sites around Stockport Stefan had crawled into, although police suspect he probably climbed in during Tuesday night as the rain lashed down.

Tez Clegg, an outreach worker with Lifeshare, a Manchester-based charity for the homeless, said: 'It is absolutely tragic that this could happen in this day and age. It is desperately sad that someone should have to sleep in a bin to get shelter.

'But sometimes people who are homeless can find it hard to get accommodation in a hostel. If they have a criminal record, some places will not accept them.

'But many of the homeless don't sleep on the streets of the city centre - it is too dangerous. Homeless people are often a target for violence.

'We supported a 16-year-old boy who had been sleeping in a bin. He was dragged from the bin and raped.'

Stefan Tomkins appeared to have everything going for him. Originally from Timperley, he attended Altrincham Boys' Grammar School and later studied for a media science degree at Sheffield Hallam University.

But the athletic teenager fell in with the wrong crowd and became addicted to alcohol and cannabis before turning to stronger drugs like ecstasy and eventually heroin.

He dropped out of university after 18 months and was thrown out of the family home after he bacme abusive towards his family. He eventually started living rough.

The once athletic 6ft 2in Stefan, who lived around Chorlton, became a physical wreck and his weight plummeted to eight stone.

Stefan's mother and father, a psychiatric nurse, said: 'Brief periods of sobriety did reveal his true personality - he was loving and caring but his life became a desolate decline. His fall was bottomless really.

'The initial gateway drug was cannabis but as far as we know it led to the whole arena of drugs.

'His decent and caring friends were substituted by undesirables and drug pushers because he gravitated towards these people.

'He alienated his circle of friends. The drugs took over and became the focus of his life. Life at home became intolerable.

'He left university and he underwent a complete personality change, becoming hard, angry and brittle. 

'We tried so hard to reach out but we were met with rejection and criticism. He manipulated money out of his family and everything was centred predominantly around alcohol. 

'Even though his father was a counsellor and nurse therapist working in substance abuse services, no amount of guidance or support could bring about positive change. He heard the horror stories but it didn't deter him.

'We couldn't live with his incessant drinking, night after night, the horrific language and abuse. It was intolerable and we asked him to leave and told him if he got his life back together he was welcome back.

'We sincerely hope that his untimely and unwelcome death strikes home to other homeless people.

'Notwithstanding his lifestyle, we loved him with all our heart but that wasn't enough to save him. We hope and pray he didn't suffer and is now in a better place.'

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