London - The homeless man who died in a subway close to Parliament had returned to the UK illegally after being jailed for sexually abusing a child and then deported, it has been reported.
The body of Marcos Amaral Gourgel was found in an underpass at Westminster Tube station last Wednesday morning after a bitterly cold night.
Jeremy Corbyn was among those who sent flowers to the scene and was quick to link the then unnamed man’s death to ‘the powerful who walk by on the other side’, while one of the Labour leader’s MP colleagues criticised ministers over the problem of rough sleepers. It later emerged that the man was 35-year-old Gourgel, a former model from Portugal of Angolan origin who had recently applied for a job as a waiter. Government officials in Lisbon later confirmed Gourgel had been deported to Portugal in both 2014 and 2016.
"In 2014 he was deported to Portugal by the British authorities and assisted on his return," the Ministry of Portuguese Communities Abroad told daily newspaper Expresso. "In 2016 we were made aware he had been deported again from the UK for being in the country illegally."
Another Portuguese paper, Correio da Manha, then reported that Gourgel had first been deported after he served time in prison for sexually abusing a child. It was not made clear how Gourgel, who is understood to have had dual Angolan and Portuguese nationality, managed to return to the UK.
Portuguese authorities had last night not been able to contact his next-of-kin to inform them of his death and say they have no record of any of his family currently living in the country.
A source from the Ministry of Portuguese Communities Abroad said: "No direct relatives of the dead man have been found in Portugal. It is known they could be living in other countries, namely Angola, where he had family connections."
The death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious. However the discovery of Gourgel’s body shortly after 7:30am last Wednesday shone a spotlight on the homeless.
Mr Corbyn’s staff left flowers and a note from him which read: "This should never have happened. As a country we must stop walking by. Rest in peace."
He later wrote on Twitter: "I’ve just been told about the death of a rough sleeper right by the entrance to Parliament. The powerful can’t carry on walking by on the other side while people don’t have a home to call their own."
Labour MP Neil Coyle used the tragedy to attack the Government. He said: "When a homeless man dies on the Government’s doorstep, ministers must stop ignoring the problem and commit to end rough sleeping."
A spokesperson for charity The Connection at St Martin’s, which provides shelter for rough sleepers, said Gourgel had applied for a job as a waiter last week.
It added that he had been staying in its emergency night centre for some time.
Despite having ‘complex circumstances’, the charity said he enjoyed singing and regularly attended yoga classes. A homeless friend said he knew him as Marcelo but added: "We tend to change our names a bit depending on who we speak to."
Last week Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a statement published on his website: "I lament the death in inhumane circumstances of our fellow countryman."
Homelessness has risen by 169 per cent since 2010, with the most recent statistics showing 4 751 people slept outside overnight in 2017, up 15 per cent on the previous year.
The Conservatives have promised to halve rough sleeping by 2022 and eradicate it by 2027.