Friends say they are shocked at the circumstances surrounding the death of Bradley Soper (pictured). Picture: Instagram
Friends say they are shocked at the circumstances surrounding the death of Bradley Soper (pictured). Picture: Instagram

Muscle man who died in home intrusion found behind sofa

THE man who died as he was being restrained during a suspected Sydney home invasion was Asia's Strongest Man in 2017.

Police are now trying to piece together how Bradley Soper died in a Harrington Park house after an alleged altercation with homeowner Johan Schwartz, whose wife and young daughter were upstairs.

 

Soper, 35, is understood to have trashed the house before business analyst Mr Schwartz found him hiding behind the couch in his living room.

The South African allegedly grabbed the intruder in a chokehold while calling for help and Soper lost consciousness.

Neighbours familiar with CPR came to help but Soper could not be revived.

Friends at a Narellan gym where the 35-year-old trained said the international "strongman", who ran a business called School of Strong, had suffered the breakdown of his relationship with his girlfriend and was hospitalised with kidney failure in recent months.

"He had some personal issues, like everyone does … there was nothing in his personality that would ever indicate anything like this," one friend said.

 

Another close friend, Peter Tsikas, said Soper was a kind man with an "epic knowledge of the human physique".

"I'm pretty much in shock to be honest with you. Day to day for three years, we talked, had laughs. Still trying to get my head around it," he said. "We got to know each other, do business together and he basically, for the first three years of my career, brought me up."

On December 3, Soper posted an image from his podium finish at the Strongman Champions League event in Goa, India.

"That's a wrap for the year, settling for 3rd," he wrote. In 2017, he won the 90kg class of Asia's Strongest Man event in the same country.

 

Soper won the 90kg class of Asia’s Strongest Man event in Goa, India, in December 2017. Picture: Instagram
Soper won the 90kg class of Asia’s Strongest Man event in Goa, India, in December 2017. Picture: Instagram

 

New details emerged on Monday of the bizarre manner in which Soper approached the Schwartz home, clambering barefoot through dense bushland towards the house. He is then understood to have crawled beneath a 60cm-high balustrade instead of simply stepping over it.

The garage door had been left open and police believe that is how Soper entered the southwest Sydney property.

One neighbour claimed he saw the man walking "like a zombie".

 

Soper competes in a Strongman competition. Picture: Instagram
Soper competes in a Strongman competition. Picture: Instagram

 

Soper's father told The Daily Telegraph from the family's home town of Minore, near Dubbo, that he refused to believe the circumstances around his son's death until after the autopsy.

"We want to wait until the autopsy is done," he said "What happened is right out of context for Bradley. We believe he was disorientated for some reason and they won't know until they do the autopsy."

 

Soper has been remembered fondly by friends and family. Picture: Instagram
Soper has been remembered fondly by friends and family. Picture: Instagram

 

The 35-year-old had recently been treated for kidney failure. Picture: Facebook
The 35-year-old had recently been treated for kidney failure. Picture: Facebook

 

Police were due to receive the results last night and the cause of death would determine the next steps in the investigation.

On Monday, Mr Schwartz - known among friends and neighbours as Francois - was too distraught to speak about the ordeal but the Harrington Park community was rallying around him.

Cafe owner Michael Nemra said the overwhelming sentiment of customers was in favour of the homeowner.

"They all feel the same. He was just trying to defend his family," Mr Nemra said.

Criminal barrister Peter Lavac said in general terms residents have the "right to defend their property, the right to defend themselves and the right to defend and protect their family".



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