TRIBUTES have been paid to a former Torquay priest who was found dead in a supermarket car park.
It is believed that Father Joseph Williams, 42, died of natural causes while he was out shopping on December 27 – but shoppers and staff did not discover his body for three days.
Former St Cuthbert Mayne school pupil Father Joseph Williams, 42, had been missing for three days before his body was found slumped over the steering wheel in Morrisons’ car park in Houghton Regis, Bedfordshire.
Bedfordshire Police said they were called to the car park on Monday and discovered a body that had lain undiscovered “for some time”.
A former pupil who was in Father Williams class at St Cuthbert Mayne school said: “I was shocked when I realised it was Joe. It was very sad as he is only 42.
“Out of everybody in our class, he was the one who you would’ve thought might become a priest. He was always a very nice, quiet chap.”
Staff at the nearby King’s Arms pub said: “We’ve very shocked. It’s very surprising and sad that a body could have gone undiscovered for three days, especially on that weekend when Morrison’s gets very busy between Christmas and New Year.”
The Bishop of Northampton, the Right Reverend Peter Doyle, led tributes to Fr Williams.
He said: “It is with much sadness that I write to let you know that Fr Joseph Williams died suddenly while out shopping on Friday December 27.
“Although there has to be a post-mortem, it would seem that he died of natural causes.”
Fr Williams was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest at Northampton Cathedral in 2000.
From 2008 to 2011 he was Parish Priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, Milton Keynes and then Parish Priest of St Martin de Porres, Luton.
The Bishop Peter will celebrate a Funeral Mass on Thursday, January 16 in St Martin de Porres at 1.30pm followed by a burial.