A YOUNG Wigan dad who hit the headlines for stealing a poppy appeal tin from a pub on Remembrance Day has died in an apparent prison suicide.
Sources say that Lee Rushton, who had been remanded in custody at Livepool’s Walton Jail over a pending harassment court case, was found hanging in his cell on Wednesday.
He was unconscious but not dead and was rushed to hospital. But medics were unable to save him and he lost his battle for life some time later.
Friends took to social media last night to pay tribute to the 24-year-old from Dean Crescent, Kitt Green, who had, by all accounts been a bright and well-brought-up young man but whose life had tragically gone off the rails in recent months.
A twin, he attended Woodfield Primary and The Deanery High Schools and leaves a young child.
Lee appeared in local and national media after CCTV cameras at Fifteens at the Fox in Roby Mill caught him stealing a British Legion charity appeal box from the bar on November 11.
Ormskirk magistrates were later condemned for only giving him a community order for so emotive a punishment.
But pub owner Tony Callaghan today said: “This is tragic news. The lad clearly had problems and needed to be punished for what he did but no-one would wish this on him; 24 is no age. My thoughts are very much with his family and friends.”
After the theft case, Lee was also charged with the harassment of his father Andrew at the family home in Worsley Mesnes.
Initially magistrates released him on bail, but then he breached its terms and was back at Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court on January 22 to be remanded into custody. He appeared again on Wednesday this week when he was re-remanded and had been due to appear before justices once more on February 4 pending the harassment trial on March 20.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “Lee Rushton was found unresponsive in his cell at Liverpool prison about 1.45pm on Wednesday January 28. Paramedics attended but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.
“Every self-inflicted death is a tragedy and we make strenuous efforts to learn from each one. As with all deaths, the Independent Prisons and Probation Ombudsman will conduct an investigation.”
As word spread of Lee’s death, tributes were paid by friends on social media.
Lynsey Charnock said: “Rest in peace, Lee. Another young lad taken to soon. Thoughts with your family.”
And Danny Coe added: “Over the past few years life sent us on our different paths but we spent many years having good times doing our thing as kids. We both had the same past which made us so close and I’m truelly gutted. Will always miss u and be thinking ov u.”