Tributes to man found dead in canal

A “LOVEABLE rogue” whose body was pulled from a canal was the life and soul of the estate where he grew up, his family said.

Kieron Lilley (24) moved to Rotherham from Essex nearly a year ago to look for work so that he could support his newborn son.

Childhood sweetheart Tracy Middleton—the mum of 11-month-old Freddie—said that she and Kieron were looking forward to making another go of it the week he disappeared.

Tracy (21) said: “Kieron only lived opposite to me growing up. Our mums were good friends and my dad used to take him fishing and to Chelsea matches.

“We went to the same school and he walked me there on my first day. We went out for about four years and have been on-and-off for about eight years.

“Kieron went to live in Rotherham but we saw each other regularly. He was meant to be coming back down south the weekend after he went missing and we were going to try again.”

She added: “I was the last one to speak to him and we were planning for the weekend.

“That’s how we knew something was wrong, when he didn’t ring.”

Industrial roofer Kieron disappeared on November 1 and his body was found three weeks later in the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Canal near Rotherham Law Courts.

Kieron’s mum, Michelle Lewis (47), described him as living life to the full and being able to “light up a room.”

He was the eldest of five and the man of the house—always looking out for brothers Kurtis (22), Jamie (19) and Bradley (18) and sister Sophie (16).

Tracy said: “Kieron was a loveable rogue. He would help old ladies with their shopping and then always manage to get 50p out of them for doing so.

He never held a grudge but would always get involved to try and help. If he saw two people arguing on the street he would go over and invite them in to sort it over a cup of tea.

“He loved football and was a brilliant player.

“He was the life and soul of our council estate and would teach all the younger kids how to play.”

Kieron’s funeral took place at St Nicolas Church, Witham, on Wednesday.

The Macy Gray hit I Try was played at the packed service—an in-joke for those familiar with a comic routine he worked out for the song.

Afterwards, mourners were invited to write down their happy memories of Kieron in a book for Freddie to read when he is older.

“Kieron was a brilliant dad,” said Tracy. “He was very loving and emotional.

“He was always very paternal, like when he was teaching the younger kids football.

“And he was responsible, because he had been the man of the house.

“We want Freddie to learn as much as possible about the kind of man his dad was.”

Police said that Kieron’s death was not thought to be suspicious. But a postmortem on November 24 was inconclusive and further tests were ordered.

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