Home invader’s tragic downfall
The personal trainer and champion bodybuilder who died in a suspected home invasion in Sydney's southwest was reportedly struggling with drugs and money.
Bradley Soper, 35, died after breaking into a Harrington Park home on Sunday but friends said this seemed "out of character" for him.
His friends and colleagues admitted they were baffled by what had led the personal trainer to be standing in the family's living room, wearing no shoes and reportedly soaking wet.
It's believed Mr Soper and his girlfriend had gone through an emotional break-up in the months leading up to his death.
In one Facebook tribute, a friend of Mr Soper's said he was struggling to recover from a "broken heart".
"Forever in my heart Brad Soper I love you man, fly high big fella," Gerard MacIntyre wrote. "Absolutely shattered, your heart was broken and you could never recover."
And, according to the ABC, Mr Soper was battling a cocaine addiction and struggling for money.
He had also spent some time in hospital for kidney failure in the weeks leading up to his death, the public broadcaster reports.
"He had some personal issues, like everyone does … there was nothing in his personality that would ever indicate anything like this," a friend told The Daily Telegraph.
Bizarre details emerged yesterday of how Mr Soper came to be inside the home of Johan Schwartz, his wife and their young daughter.
A neighbour told news.com.au he'd witnessed Mr Soper walking barefoot and "zombie-like" through the forest adjacent to the family home before climbing under, rather than over, a shin-high wooden fence.
Mr Schwartz, a South African finance worker, had been living in Harrington Park estate for less than two years when their family home was broken into early Sunday morning.
Neighbours praised Mr Schwartz for defending his family after he was alerted to a disturbance when his dogs started barking just before 8am on the Sunday.
It's believed the 44-year-old dad walked downstairs to find Mr Soper, wearing a singlet, shorts and standing barefoot in his lounge room. According to investigators, Mr Schwartz then "challenged (the) male intruder".
A violent struggle between the pair ensued, resulting in the intruder collapsing and losing consciousness.
Neighbours rushed to help and gave the man CPR and Mr Schwartz's wife called triple-0 but he couldn't be saved.
'WE WILL MISS HIM BEYOND WORDS'
Mr Soper competed internationally in the Strongman Champions League in India as recently as December and finished third.
On his work website, Mr Soper listed some of his accomplishments as being named the second strongest man in NSW under 90kg in 2016 and 2017 and the winner of Asia's strongest man in 2017. He said his "long term goal" was to be "Australia's most powerful man under 90kg".
Mr Soper was a regular face at the XXX Fight Academy, an MMA-based gym where "real fighters" train.
The academy issued a statement about Mr Soper's death on social media.
"It is with the greatest sadness and shock to announce the passing of Brad Soper, our coach, our colleague and our friend," it read.
"This news has absolutely devastated us all and we are going to miss him beyond words. His knowledge, encouragement, strength and all of the laughs and fun in between."
According to the statement, "Brad's dedication to his sport and training was nothing short of inspiring, he always put in the work to achieve his goals".
"His passion was to learn as much as he could and share everything he knew with his clients," it continued.
"Each and every one of them will be grateful for what he's given them. Sending all of our love to his family and friends at this heartbreaking time. Forever our Strongman. RIP."
The Holistic Strongman, a friend of Mr Soper's, described his death as "confusing".
"Really shocked to hear Brad Soper has passed away unexpectedly. From my dealings with him, he was a great guy and so this is very sad and confusing," he wrote.
"R.I.P. Bro I will miss you so much. My best mate bruh. You taught me so much man, I can't believe this sh*t," read one tribute to Mr Soper on Instagram.
Another online tribute read: "Holy cow - condolences to friends & a family - was such a bright young chap."
Followed by: "Absolutely devastating, such a lovely guy who was always smiling".
Detectives have seized CCTV footage from two separate houses which shows the intruder before he approached the Schwartz residence.
It will give officers a clearer picture on whether Mr Soper went for a swim in the family's pool before entering the Westwood Court house.
A neighbour who watched the security vision said Mr Soper could be seen "staggering like a zombie" with no shoes on through a reserve with dense undergrowth that would have cut into his skin.
A NSW Police source on Monday said homicide detectives were assisting in the investigation and awaiting the outcome of a post-mortem examination of the intruder's body to determine the cause of death.
Mr Schwartz was quizzed for several hours by investigators but was released on Sunday night without charge "pending further inquiries". Earlier, police said Mr Schwartz was entitled to use "reasonable force" to protect his home and family.