The sister of a homeless man found dead in his makeshift camp two weeks ago has told of how "devastated" she was to discover her big brother died alone.
Cat Layton, from Young, said her brother Grant Hynes led a troubled life and struggled to fit into the norms of society and in the end, he was dismally let down by "the system".
The body of Mr Hynes, 35, was discovered about 2pm on Saturday, January 19, near the main canal at Bridge Road where he had been living for some time.
The official cause of his death is unknown and the case will be investigated by the coroner.
Mrs Layton, who was nine years younger than Mr Hynes, recalls her brother having a "very tender heart".
Mr Hynes was the second of four children and spent much of Mrs Layton’s childhood caring for his siblings, as their parents worked very hard.
She said her brother was born very premature, at just 28 weeks, and struggled physically through his childhood, though he excelled academically.
“He was most certainly a book worm – my father was always very distant from Grant and I think he saw him as a disappointment,” Mrs Layton said.
“Grant never really healed from the rejection.
“There were many happy times in our family but there were a lot of dark times too.”
During his early 20s, Mr Hynes spent time blockading trees in Victoria’s Goolengook Forest, sleeping in the tops of old-growth trees so they could not be bulldozed.
Later in his 20s, he moved to Griffith where he worked at Bartter’s Poultry.
Mrs Layton said he loved to camp, fish and travel and had seen most of Australia in his short life.
Mr Hynes also had an 11-year-old son, who he lost contact with – along with the rest of his family.
“Somewhere along the lines we lost Grant,” Mrs Layton said.
“We outreached to every service we could and I had him live in Young with me for about two years where I tried desperately to get him the help he needed.
“He had many mental illnesses including schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.
“He also had severe epilepsy and alcohol dependency.
“The truth is he was a lot of hard work – many services claimed they could not help him because of his dual diagnosis.”
While it is too late to save her brother, Mrs Layton has called on people to have greater awareness and compassion for homeless people and those living with mental illness.
“It breaks my heart to know that Grant died an inconvenience to society and that he was beyond help and so he was left to die,” she said.
“It breaks my heart to know that he was not unique and that there are 105,237 people homeless in Australia and they may die in the same way that my brother did and that they too will just become another statistic – a nameless body and an ‘inconvenience’.
“I’m devastated and hurting for my brother – he was on his own and I just pray that he knew we loved him dearly.”