Brother brings his tragic twin home after 23-year search
LES Allen searched for 23 years for his twin brother David, who disappeared without a trace in 1990.
Tragically, the emotional quest ended this year in the sterile surrounds of a morgue in Sydney.
David was found dead on May 5, his 240kg frame slumped in a laneway in Sydney's CBD. He had just turned 45.
There were no suspicious circumstances; the official cause of death recorded as morbid obesity, an enlarged heart and liver problems.
It took police nearly two weeks to formally identify him. A black panther tattoo stretching the length of his right forearm was a distinguishing feature that helped reveal his true identity.
The task was made more difficult given that he had about nine different aliases, his most recent "Karl Reichmann".
Les made the painful journey from Mt Morgan to Sydney to claim his brother's body.
What he learned was that David had spent many of the "missing years" living on Sydney's streets.
Despite being homeless, he had nearly $30,000 in his bank account, saved from his pension cheques.
Les used every cent to farewell his brother.
He paid $13,000 for a silk-lined, pure mahogany coffin. The funeral was held in St Philip's Anglican Church in Sydney, only a few streets from where David had lived - and eventually died.
Despite the enforced separation, Les says he still considers himself "one of the lucky ones".
"The main thing is we found where he was. I was able to go down, bring him home and put him to rest," he said.
Seven months on and Les is still coming to terms with the fact he will never see his brother again.
Sitting in the kitchen of his home, he sifts through the precious reminders of his brother.
Laid on the table are some small black and white photos, a white watch, and a dented cigarette tin holding a few coins.
"Even in death, he tried to conceal his identity," Les says, tears clouding his grey eyes.
"I guess we have to accept that he never wanted to be found... he changed his name that many times.
"The thing that sticks in my stomach is that he should never have had to die alone, there in the gutter.
"This is where his body was found," he says, pointing close to an orange dumpster in a dreary street scene caught in a photo on his phone.
"Such a lonely place ..."
Les takes a deep breath, blinks away the tears and clutches the watch, the most recent and most tangible link to his brother.
"It gives me a bit of peace knowing that I've got something of his that no one else has."
Also offering some semblance of peace is knowing that David is now much closer to home.
Some of his ashes were sprinkled over the cliffs near The Singing Ship at Emu Park, a place where as young boys David and Les spent many a holiday.
Les almost affords a smile as he thinks about the ceremony.
"When I threw the first lot of ashes, the wind blew in; I ended up swallowing some of them," he said. "My sister said, 'I know twins stick together but this is ridiculous'."
The remainder of David's ashes were sprinkled near what Les describes as David's "day bed", a wooden bench in a Sydney park.