A CANDLELIT vigil has been held for a “gentle man” who was murdered while living on the streets, as police continue a search for “key” evidence.

The Polish man, who police named yesterday as 37-year-old Wojciech Miecznikowski, died over the weekend after being discovered with head injuries in Fleetwood Avenue, Westcliff, on Tuesday.

Police say Mr Miecznikowski may have known his attacker.

The vigil, organised by the St Vincent de Paul Society homeless charity and other charities, attracted dozens of people mourning the loss of a troubled friend “who would do anything for anyone”.

Daniel Cauchi, president of St Vincent de Paul, said: “All the homeless charities, St Vincent de Paul Society, One Love Project, soup kitchens and fellow homeless friends placed a candle and paid their respects to Wojciech who died last week.

Southend Standard:

Tributes - pals paid tribute to Wojciech

“He was a gentle man and would help anyone. He had some tough times to deal with but was always respectful.”

Mr Cauchi added: “Wojciech has some problems with alcohol but during the lockdown he was given a B&B by the council. After two weeks he looked so well and had a little bit of determination but it’s very difficult to keep going without proper treatment. He was a such a generous person.”

Gary Turner, service operations manager for Harp, Southend’s Homeless Charity, said: “This is a real tragic situation and at Harp we were saddened to hear of this awful loss of life, especially as it is someone who was well known to us and other organisations working with marginalised people.

“Wojciech was well-liked by our team and other Harp service users, and our thoughts go out to his friends and family. Living on the streets can leave people vulnerable to violence, which is why we do everything we can to help people to get off the streets and to avoid ending up on the streets in the first place.”

Senior Investigating Officer Det Chief Insp Scott Egerton said: “Our thoughts are with Wojciech’s family and friends during this difficult time. We particularly need to speak to a man in his 70s sitting outside the library or anyone who used the walkway between Ronald Park Avenue and Fleetwood Avenue.”

Lucasz Kustra, of no fixed address, was arrested on suspicion of murder and has now been charged.He will appear at Southend Magistrates’ Court. A second man is on bail until October 20.