Murdered Northampton man's sister says talk to homeless

Chris Matthews at Northampton Town Image copyright Fleur Matthews
Image caption Chris Matthews (centre) with his sister Fleur (third from left) and brother Aaron (right) at a Northampton Town game

The sister of a homeless man who was stabbed to death has urged people to talk to rough sleepers rather than "giving them abuse".

Fleur Matthews' brother Chris, 42, was murdered by Spencer Hobson at a house for homeless people recovering from drink and drug problems in June 2018.

Hobson, 50, was jailed for life for the "senseless" and "brutal" killing in Northampton.

Ms Matthews said homeless people "all have their own story".

The nurse will hold a sleep-out in her "happy-go-lucky, very funny" brother's memory in aid of a homelessness charity on 1 March.

She said: "He'd be very proud we are trying to help his 'street family', but he'd be saying why are you sleeping out in the freezing cold when you've got a nice bed?"

Image copyright Fleur Matthews
Image caption Chris Matthews was born in Northampton, the town he would end up sleeping on the streets of

Mr Matthews ended up on the streets in September 2016, having developed drink problems shortly before turning 40.

His sister said: "Alcoholism is an addiction, an illness. He found it very hard to focus while on the streets."

The father-of-three had eventually moved into a property in Victoria Gardens, run by the Richmond Fellowship charity.

Image copyright Stan Robertson
Image caption Northampton's Abington Street is home to many rough sleepers

Hobson, who had a string of previous convictions and had fallen out with three previous housemates, lived at the same house.

The court heard Mr Matthews had wanted to move out because he had been attacked by his killer before.

However, alternative accommodation was not available on the night he was killed.

He was stabbed 12 times at the house.

Image copyright Fleur Matthews
Image caption Members of Northampton's homeless community attended Chris Matthews' funeral

His sister said members of his "street family" attended his funeral.

One rough sleeper, who did not want to be named, cried as he said he used to bed down on the streets with Mr Matthews and had encouraged him to go back to Victoria Gardens on the night he was murdered.

Ms Matthews said she had stayed in contact with some of her brother's friends.

"I've sat on the floor with them," she said.

"Emotions very often run high. They find it hard to deal with."

Image copyright Northamptonshire Police
Image caption Spencer Hobson smoked crack cocaine after stabbing Chris Matthews with a 24cm kitchen knife

Ms Matthews said many people questioned why families allowed their loved ones to be homeless but "when someone is fighting their own demons, it is very difficult".

She said the family would take Mr Matthews out for food and buy him clothes, while his father, a taxi driver, would check on him most days.

"People are quite ignorant, saying it's not going to happen to me," Ms Matthews said.

"They say 'look at him over there' and call them tramps.

"People need to see beyond what they see sitting in front of them and talk to these people."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Mr Matthews' body was found at his home in Victoria Gardens

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