Brad Soper, a 35 year old Sydney man, died in a home invasion in Harrington Park. Picture: Instagram.
Brad Soper, a 35 year old Sydney man, died in a home invasion in Harrington Park. Picture: Instagram.

Mystery surrounds bodybuilder’s final moments and death

A FEW days ago, Johan Francois Schwartz was woken by the sounds of his dogs barking, before he walked down the stairs to find champion weightlifter Bradley Soper inside his Sydney home.

Mr Soper, 35, was reportedly standing barefoot behind a couch in the lounge room soaking wet, wearing a singlet and shorts at about 8am on Sunday. A violent struggle ensued, and moments later, Mr Soper was dead. Mr Schwartz's wife and young child were home at the time of the incident.

But almost a week on, there are still no answers as to what led Mr Soper to enter the family home, or what caused his death.

A police source on Thursday said the post-mortem examination was inconclusive. A toxicology report also failed to help investigators determine what happened in the moments before Mr Soper's death. Additional forensic analysis is now expected to be carried out.

Brad Soper, 35, died in a suspected home invasion. Picture: Instagram.
Brad Soper, 35, died in a suspected home invasion. Picture: Instagram.

 

Mr Schwartz, 44, was questioned for several hours by police on Sunday but was released without charge pending further inquiries. Detective Chief Inspector Shane Woolbank on Sunday said "generally people are entitled to their home and they're entitled to use reasonable force to protect themselves and their property".

Detectives from Camden Police are handling the investigation, but it is understood state homicide detectives have advised them not to lay charges against Mr Schwartz.

There are reports investigators are exploring the possibility that Mr Soper may have been disoriented and high on drugs.

He lived just streets away in neighbouring Oran Park, according to police. "We were able to track Mr Soper coming out of the woodland opposite the address, but as to how he actually got there or why he went down there is still subject to our investigation," Camden crime manager Detective Inspector Shane Woolbank said.

Johan Schwartz, also known as Francois Schwartz, outside his family home on February 18. Picture: Christian Gilles.
Johan Schwartz, also known as Francois Schwartz, outside his family home on February 18. Picture: Christian Gilles.

Mr Schwartz, a South African finance worker, had been living in Harrington Park estate for less than two years when his home was invaded. Neighbours praised Mr Schwartz for defending his family after he was alerted to the disturbance.

The Daily Telegraph on Thursday reported Mr Schwartz and Mr Soper may have known each other if they worked out at the same city gym.

A Reddit social media account linked to Mr Schwartz commented on February 3 on a video showing an alleged mobile phone thief being held and pulled alongside a car by someone in the vehicle.

 

Mr Soper’s body is removed from the residence of at Westwood Court in Harrington Park on February 17 2019. Picture: Monique Harmer.
Mr Soper’s body is removed from the residence of at Westwood Court in Harrington Park on February 17 2019. Picture: Monique Harmer.

The thief, whose hand was in the car, is repeatedly punched in the head by those said to be the potential victims of the theft.

"If he is committed to crime, he will next time bring a gun and target someone more vulnerable like an 80-year-old," the Reddit comment states.

"No sympathy. The person on the receiving end of his crime could also be poor, and worked hard at an honest job to buy that phone. What does his theft do to that honest person?"

The comments were made two weeks before the break-in at Mr Schwartz's home on Sunday.

Friends of Mr Soper said a home invasion was ‘out of character’ for him. Picture: Instagram.
Friends of Mr Soper said a home invasion was ‘out of character’ for him. Picture: Instagram.

WHO WAS BRADLEY SOPER?

Many of Mr Soper's friends and colleagues said they were baffled as to what had led the personal trainer to be standing in the family's living room, wearing no shoes and reportedly soaking wet.

Mr Soper was a strength and conditioning coach, according to his Instagram account "school_of_strong_", which showed him competing in various Strongman competitions around the world.

In December, Mr Soper posted a photo to Facebook of himself third on a Strongman Champions League podium in Goa, India. Another post showed him dead-lifting 250kg more than a dozen times.

A neighbour told news.com.au he had 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.

"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 Telegraph.

According to the ABC, Mr Soper was battling a cocaine and steroid addiction and struggling for money.

Mr Soper was a personal trainer who frequented the Smeaton Grange gym in Sydney.
Mr Soper was a personal trainer who frequented the Smeaton Grange gym in Sydney.

He had also spent some time in hospital for kidney failure in the weeks leading up to his death, the public broadcaster reports. It is also believed Mr Soper and his ex-girlfriend Kaisha Gambell had gone through an emotional breakup 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."

One friend described Mr Soper as "a great bloke, an inspiration and an awesome coach".

"Very, very sad news - I cant believe it - RIP Brad Soper," another said.

Further details of Mr Soper's past have continued to emerge since his death.

Mr Soper with ex-partner Kaisha Gambell. Picture: Facebook
Mr Soper with ex-partner Kaisha Gambell. Picture: Facebook

Court records viewed by news.com.au show that Alysse Bowen, a former personal training client of Mr Soper, made an application for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order against him in February 2017.

The matter was heard in Waverley Local Court with both parties present.

Mr Soper represented himself and was ordered to not assault, threaten, stalk, harass, intimidate or destroy or damage any property that belonged to Ms Bowen.

Conditions of the 12-month order also included that he "must not approach or be in the company of Alysse Suzanne Bowen for at least 12 hours after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs."

 

- With AAP

megan.palin@news.com.au | @Megan_Palin



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