AS A BOY: The only known photo of Eddie Bashford, a man who was unknown tomany but liked by all who knew him.
AS A BOY: The only known photo of Eddie Bashford, a man who was unknown tomany but liked by all who knew him. Contributed

Friends and family share insight into Bashford's last weeks

DURING the last few weeks of Edward Bashford's life, he was seen walking down East St dressed like a king.

Far removed from Eddie's typical dress, the fancy clothes and groomed appearance were a shock, but in true Eddie style, it was another mystery added to the Rockhampton man's life before he was murdered in Depot Hill on April 12.

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Eddie, who remained homeless for years on Rockhampton's streets, had no possessions and took to the city's bins in search of food each day.

He was a man who opted out of mainstream society and spent his days in Rockhampton as a content drifter.

On Tuesday afternoon, friends, family and those who had tried to help Eddie throughout his life, gathered at Calvary Lutheran Church to piece together the fragments of memories they had of the 56-year-old.

There was only one photo to share: that of a blonde-haired, fair-skinned young boy, looking down and smiling with a wide grin.

Last month, Eddie's body, weighing 41kg was discovered in a Depot Hill home he had been staying at; the home where he was murdered.

It was a terrible end to a life, that by all accounts, Eddie was content living.

His brother Kevin recalled that even as a young boy, Eddie was a loner and in his older years didn't seek out or desire help from others.

"He did his own thing. He lived his life the way he lived it and he was happy with it," Kevin said at the memorial service.

"I like to remember him as the person he was and not what happened afterwards, because he was a sick boy for a while."

The last time Capricorn Citizen Advocacy coordinator Ewan Filmer saw Eddie, he was dropping him off at the house on Campbell St where he lost his life.

He was sure he would see Eddie again, but that would be the last time.

Ewan first met Eddie in early March, after a support worker from Ozcare Homeless Hostel (Oznam House), where Eddie had stayed on multiple occasions, reached out to him.

Eddie had been frequenting the Rockhampton Library and library staff, concerned for his welfare had reached out to the hostel.

 

The Rockhampton library where Eddie Bashford enjoyed spending a lot of time reading Mad Magazine, The Daily Mercury and motorcycle magazines.
The Rockhampton library where Eddie Bashford enjoyed spending a lot of time reading Mad Magazine, The Daily Mercury and motorcycle magazines. www.queensland.com

"The staff said that he was always well-mannered and friendly, but he looked like he'd been sleeping rough," Ewan said.

"I went down to see him."

Instead of "whisking him away", Ewan and Eddie developed a system where he would go to the library and talk to him.

"I saw him five or six times in that period and the whole time he never, ever remembered my name," Ewan said.

"He always had something he wanted to tell me."

A small flat in North Rockhampton had once been organised for Eddie.

But after a few weeks, where Eddie had been "preyed upon" financially, he went back to his old habits and returned to the streets.

One of his passions included a meticulous dedication to scratch-its, where he would know every scratch-it he bought and every taking he won.

Eddie loved reading the Daily Mercury, Mad Magazine and fawning over the bikes in motorcycle magazines.

"He had this story he kept repeating that he used to ride and race motocross bikes at Emerald and he had a 500cc Suzuki and used to have 465 knob heads on the back," Ewan said.

"He'd say 'I'd spray rocks all over them, the competitors were eating dirt'.

"He used to love telling me that, but he'd forget and he'd tell me again. He had early stages of dementia. He wasn't well.

"He kept forgetting, his memory was going. When I spoke to Oznam House they said he'd slipped a lot in the last 10 years."

Eddie had worked as a commercial fisherman on boats around Queensland and had a brain injury from a car accident in Gladstone 10 years ago.

He came to Rockhampton for surgery to have his head drained and decided to stay, but he was homeless and spent a lot of time wandering the streets.

"He told me he'd go to the nightclub area on Saturday and Sunday mornings and find what he could eat, and pick up cigarette dumpings to make his own smokes," Ewan said.

"He was a very lovable person. I've never met anyone quite like him and I've been doing this sort of work for six years."

One time, while visiting him at the library, Eddie remarked that it was his birthday and he was planning on having a beer at one of the pubs in town.

He was missing time, and believed he had turned 55 instead of 56, which took Ewan some time to convince him otherwise.

Eddie spoke to Ewan of his former partner and her two daughters in Maryborough, something that was clearly still important to him.

"I feel privileged to have been a part of his last few weeks," Ewan said.

"He should be remembered like anyone else, for their intrinsic value."

Life had not been easy for Eddie. He had struggled with many trials and had a history of alcohol addiction.

"He was a kind and gentle man," one person said at his memorial as they choked back tears.

Eddie was not just another statistic.

He was an interesting man, a kind, friendly and independent man, who despite being a mystery to many, was liked by everyone he knew him.