Saturday 24 February 2018

Rough sleeper found dead on Dublin street was registered sex offender

Jack Watson, who died on Thursday
Jack Watson, who died on Thursday
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A rough sleeper whose tragic death reignited a debate around homelessness was a convicted sex offender.

Stephen 'Jack' Watson was discovered unconscious on Suffolk Street in Dublin's South Inner city in the early hours of last Thursday morning. He was removed to hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

His death sparked an outpouring of grief and anger from homeless groups and politicians.

Now Independent.ie has learned that Watson, who went by a number of different names, was a registered sex offender. He was placed on the sex offenders register in Ireland after he was deported from Australia and was required to inform gardaí of his whereabouts.

The scene was sealed off this morning.
The scene was sealed off this morning.

The Irish Sun is reporting that Watson was deported from Australia in October 2015, after he amassed 40 convictions over 19 years.

According to court reports Watson was jailed for 18 months in April 2008 after he was convicted in Bendigo County Court in the state of Victoria of indecently assaulting two girls under the age of 16.

He was later jailed after a court heard he knowingly passed on the HIV virus to a woman.

After he was deported to Ireland Watson began sleeping rough and in homeless shelters across the city.

During the Home Sweet Home protest last December/January Watson cooked for those who occupied Apollo House.

A vigil was held for Watson last Friday outside Leinster House in Dublin.

Jim Sheridan, the film director who was a key figure in the Apollo House "occupation", seemed bemused at the failure to solve this problem.

"I'm sure Simon Coveney wasn't lying to us when he said he'd get all the kids out of the hotels. He was probably doing his best and then he moved on. I honestly believe that," he said. "But it seems to be an intractable problem that is bigger than one individual."

Homelessness is reaching record levels; 5,036 adults and 2,895 children were homeless in Ireland in June, according to Government figures.

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