Man Literally Left For Dead

By London_Sian Last edited 130 months ago
Man Literally Left For Dead

This weekend, a man was found dead in Orpington High Street. Apparently his death is being treated as 'sudden'. What's surprising about this is that although his death was sudden, no one spotted him for 13 hours.

Think about this for a second. A whole day. We never really think about time passing. But we're starting to realise just how long a day really is. We'd like to think if we were sick, or collapsed in public, someone would come to our aid. We say we'd do the same. So how on earth, did someone dead go unnoticed for such a long time?

We're sad to say that this story gets worse. The man was only feet away from people setting up their market stalls for the day. He'd been there since 4am. Hundreds of people must have walked past him and not one stopped to see if he was OK. Not one even glanced back at him.

Now, much as we hate to admit it, most of us don't want to have to deal with the homeless or drunks in our day to day life.We're not proud of this but it's true. And it's possible that for a while people could have mistaken him for a homeless guy who was sleeping. Hindsight is a powerful gift. It's easy for us to say 'we would have helped'. However there is something chilling about not even being aware that a man has died because we choose to block out bad things in case they get in the way of our every day lives. We're too busy doing important things like buying a pint of milk.

This man was a person. He had a name and family and people who loved him. He was somebody. So for those who walked past him and didn't stop to see if he was OK and didn't even notice him, shame on you.

Londonist is wondering what happened to basic human compassion and whether it's left this city for good.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family.

Flickr image from Nicobobinus' photostream.

Last Updated 28 August 2007


Who are you to dish out the 'shame' on everyone who walked past this corpse?
I've often seen homeless people asleep on the street and wondered if they are dead. But the truth is, if you go over and touch them to check, then not only have you just touched a tramp (yuk), they are now going to expect some money from you. And what if they are dead... isn't it a bit late to do anything about it?


If I had walked past a dead body on a busy street and hadn't done anything, I would feel ashamed.

But here's a thought, 'tramps' (or rather, the homeless) are people too.

How would you feel if someone you loved had been left dead in the street?


A high horse Londonist post. What a surprise that isn't.

Pedant point : Someone "left for dead" is someone assumed to be dead and so abandoned, who subsequently turns out not to be dead at all. A more accurate heading might be "left for drunk". A more thoughtful post might have wondered whether making assumptions about people you've never met, and damning them as shameful couldn't-care-less Londoners, is actually a good example of the problem you think you're attacking.

The problem is not that we're surrounded by bastards, the problem is that people like the author of this post assumes that we're surrounded by bastards.


Siany was simply angry on this guy's family's behalf, because we simply live in a society where 90% of people think the homeless are disgusting drug addicts who brought it on themselves. Either that, or they try ignore them best they can. Instead of saying 'sorry' when they ask, they give them a nasty look and walk off as quick as they can.

Interesting how you've also just attacked someone you've never met...


I found this post insulting, overly subjective, and unhelpful in highlighting the issue of homelessness in our city.

"Not one [person] even glanced back at him."!!!!

Start putting (completely unjustified) phrases like that in bold capitals and you'll have a career at the Daily Mail in no time!

Not what I hope for from Londonist: this post should have edited.



The simple fact is, a human being who was dead wasn't helped or noticed for 13 hours. I find this disgusting and I stand by this.

Nowhere in this post do I say that he was homeless. And while it's possible for people to have mistaken him for a homeless man, this isn't the issue. The fact that so many people walked by in a busy street is horrendous. It's not like this was a side street no one goes down.

Many people are seem to be missing the point that what happened was a tragedy and whether we like it or not, this man was ignored by society.

The issue of homelessness ou brought up, Andy, is only highlighted by the guest who thinks homeless people are 'yuk'.


I'm quite surprised by the reaction to the post. I'm totally amazed that anyone could find it insulting. I think this event does indicate the decay of our society.


Hi Siany,

I didn't really want to get into a moral debate. I wanted to make the point that, in my opinion, this post doesn't belong on Londonist - it's more suited to a personal blog.

In response to "guest": the post is insulting because it casts aspersions on the reader, implying that he/she is in denial about the problem of homelessness and too busy buying milk! What else am I supposed to put on my cereal? I've tried tap water....grim.

I realise there are very honourable intentions and feelings behind your writing...maybe you could try and convey them in a less preachy way next time.



I understand what you're saying, and actually do see your point, but when something like this happens in London, it's hard not to get personal about it. It's very rare I'm critical about London, but this story really shocks me.

I simply meant that sometimes that the things we do in our everyday lives aren't that important when you put them in perspective. And the fact is, many people in London are in denial - many of them crossing the road to avoid talking to a homeless person.

It wasn't my intention to sound preachy, but while this stuff is happening in London, and dead bodies are being ignored I think this post does belong on Londonist.


His name was Robert Paulson. He wasn't a unique snow flake.

London is a soulless shit-hole of a place. Can't help it - everyone elbowing their way past each other socially climbing to oblivion as fast as they can.

Good posts can generate extreme discomfort in the reader. This one has. I can't decide who to blame: everyone, or the dead guy. But it's definitely not my fault...


Thank you for naming him.


I think he's quoting Fight Club there... from Wikipedia "a member of Project Mayhem points out that only in death do members of Project Mayhem have a name. The unnamed member begins chanting, "his name was Robert Paulson", and this phrase becomes a meme and mantra that the narrator encounters later on in the story multiple times."


Oh, I see. Silly me. That quote makes a lot of sense.

As far as I'm aware after checking a few sources, he hasn't actually been named yet.


Steven Coomber. His name.

Or "yuk" according to the callous, selfish waste of DNA that commented first.