A DRUG addict who spent years sleeping rough on the streets of Brighton died just months after finding a home.

Simon Taylor was only 42 when he died suddenly at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, suffering from blood poisoning.

His mother Angela Gambill revealed how he had fought drug addiction after years of homelessness.

She told The Argus: "He had his life ruined by drugs. We almost got him back into the family fold and it was so sad.

"Now and then he would find a little home and everything would be going well and then he would drift off again."

Simon was a heroin addict but also used crack cocaine and drank alcohol.

He joined various self-help groups in a bid to conquer his addictions, and even talked to young people to warn them of the "horrors and dangers" of drugs, his family said.

Simon was known on the streets of Brighton alongside his pet Staffordshire terrier dog Harley.

Mrs Gambill added: "He was so devoted to his dog - they lived for each other."

During bin strikes, Simon was one of the homeless people who helped instigate a clean-up while rubbish bags piled high. "That was the sort of kid he was," his mother added.

After four or five years sleeping rough on the streets, Simon found a flat with help from the council and was living in Holland Road in Hove prior to his death on March 13.

Mrs Gambill, who now lives in North Carolina in America has flown over for his funeral which takes place today [thurs].

She said: "I was talking to him only a few weeks ago in hospital and he was saying, 'Don't worry, don't worry.'

"But then he went. Even if I had been in Devon [where the family is staying] I don't couldn't have got here in time."

Simon's youngest sister Beulah Coley, a social worker who also lives in North Carolina, said: "I was expecting it. I was very close to him and we spent a lot of time together.

"As I got older I knew about his addiction - it was really distressing, I couldn't imagine my big brother sleeping in doorways."

His death comes after The Argus revealed in January that more than 50 homeless people have died over the past three years with leading doctor Tim Worthley warning there could be more deaths.

The average age of mortality for someone on the streets is 47.

A celebration of Simon’s life takes this afternoon at the Downs Crematorium, Main Chapel, at 3pm.

The family has requested that donations to the homeless charity Shelter are sent to Teresa Baker and Michelle Tanner, Mother and Daughter Funeral Directors, 20 Blatchington Road, Hove BN3 3YN. Alternatively, call 01273 734242.


THE past three years have seen at least 50 deaths of homeless people in Brighton and Hove.

In January Dr Tim Worthley said his surgery, the Brighton Homeless Healthcare centre in Morley Street, had seen 21 deaths last year alone. His figures also include 15 deaths in 2013 and 15 in 2014. Dr Worthley said all the deaths were preventable.

He said: “It’s a tragedy really that we have people dying on our streets. It’s looking like homelessness is only going to get worse over the next few years and because of that, due to cuts, there will be more deaths too.

“It’s the perfect storm and there’s this horrible sense of inevitability about it all.”

He said homelessness does not necessarily mean rough sleeping, with some people squatting or in hostels.

Dr Worthley said his own practice alone had 1,400 homeless people in the city on its register. The average age of mortality for someone on the streets is 47.

Among the names The Argus knows of, one was Lesley “Gareth” Raymond, a Big Issue seller outside Waitrose in Western Road, Brighton, who died on New Year’s Day.

Another was a man called Casey (sometimes spelt Kacey), often seen in a Despicable Me onesie, who died on January 3.

In Brighton and Hove the number of rough sleepers has gone up by about 100 since 2010, when the figure was about 50.