An Englishman who went to extraordinary lengths to live a double life in Australia before he was found dead in a Sydney unit in 2014 has been identified by a coroner as John Pritchard.

The man's former boyfriend found his body in a Manly unit but when authorities attempted to identify him, it soon became apparent many aspects of his life didn't stack up, according to the Daily Mail.

John Pritchard paid for everything in cash and revealed minimal details about his background. Photo / NSW Police Force
John Pritchard paid for everything in cash and revealed minimal details about his background. Photo / NSW Police Force

Pritchard went by the name Paul Lachlan while in Australia and NSW Deputy State Coroner Harriet Grahame on Monday described him as "somewhat mysterious" and "ultimately quite unknowable, even to those closest to him".

Throughout a 17-year relationship, his ex-partner, who can't be named for legal reasons, never saw official mail, a driver's licence, Medicare card, tax file number or passport.

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Pritchard paid for everything in cash and revealed minimal details about his background.

Police searched fingerprint databases, checked the electoral roll, spoke to the Immigration Department and contacted the British consulate and Air Force - all without success.

It wasn't until the man's niece in the UK recognised his photographs that police made major progress.

One relative who lost contact in 2002 said she never considered filing a missing person report.

"As far as I was concerned, he was not missing. I knew he was living a very happy life in the country he wanted to live in," she said.

Australia's Department of Immigration confirmed a man by the name of John Pritchard with the same date of birth entered Australia in 1996 and DNA comparisons with relatives showed "moderately strong" matches.

Police found flatmates from his former Surry Hills address who recalled changing the locks after Pritchard was accused of stealing rent money, a computer and CDs in 1997.

He started using the name Paul Lachlan around the same time but "provided sketchy and sometimes conflicting versions of his past" while living in Australia illegally.

Police found flatmates from John Pritchard's former Surry Hills address who recalled changing the locks after Pritchard was accused of stealing in 1997. Photo / NSW Police Force
Police found flatmates from John Pritchard's former Surry Hills address who recalled changing the locks after Pritchard was accused of stealing in 1997. Photo / NSW Police Force

A friend who volunteered with Pritchard at Lifeline was once told his parents did not accept his sexuality, the coroner's report states.

"That may have been part of the reason for the distance he had from his family," Grahame said.

"I have no way now of knowing if that is true."

The coroner said Pritchard was initially an uplifting, caring and loving person but became "a somewhat troubled young man".

She offered condolences to Pritchard's former partner and family and agreed to suppress details of his cause of death.

"While they had not been in contact for years, I understand their shock and loss is nevertheless significant," Grahame said.