Inquest for man in Australia ID mystery

A photo of Paul Lachlan sent out by Australian police
A photo of Paul Lachlan sent out by Australian police

A Wiganer who flew to the other side of the world to live a mysterious life in Australia has been identified at an inquest.

John Pritchard, who was known Down Under as Paul Lachlan, died in an apartment in Sydney in 2014 after entering the country back in 1996.

While they had not been in contact for years, I understand the shock and loss for his family is nevertheless significant

Harriet Grahame

Australian authorities launched an appeal for information following his death as he had no passport, bank accounts, credit cards or government documents.

The inquest heard that he paid for everything in cash and revealed very little to his new Australian friends and acquaintances about his background.

Investigations into Mr Lachlan’s death only progressed when an ex-partner came forward to tell the Australian police the man was Wiganer Mr Pritchard.

Further information was provided when Mr Pritchard’s niece in the UK recognised a photo of him.

His identity also became clearer when news broke of the developments in the efforts to find out what had happened to him last year, with Wiganers writing on social media that they remembered Mr Pritchard attending St John Fisher High School in Beech Hill, though they spelled his first name Jon.

Residents paid tribute to him and suggested other family members also lived in the Beech Hill area.

One relative said that despite losing contact with Mr Pritchard she assumed he was living happily in the country he had wanted to move to and never considered submitting a missing person report.

Australia’s Department of Immigration showed a man with Mr Pritchard’s name entered the country in 1996 and the dates of birth also matched.

Police had previously said they believed him to be between 45 and 47 years old at the time of his death.

Coroner Harriet Grahame said there was now no way of finding out what had caused Mr Pritchard to put distance between himself and his family and begin a new life in Australia.

She offered condolences to his former partner and relatives and agreed not to make the cause of death public.

She said: ’While they had not been in contact for years, I understand their shock and loss is nevertheless significant.”