The devastated wife of a Gartree Prison worker tragically found dead in Market Harborough town centre paid a heartbreaking tribute to him.
Sandra Preocanin said she was living a “nightmare” after her husband Stevan Preocanin, 61, was discovered dead in a front garden.
Mrs Preocanin, 57, of Hillside Road, Harborough, told the Harborough Mail: “I can’t believe that Stevan has gone.
“It’s a terrible shock – it’s just unbelievable.”
The heartbroken mother-of-two added: “Stevan was my dream man and we were totally devoted to each other.
“He was the love of my life and I was the love of his.”
Mrs Preocanin said football-mad Stevan, whose body was found at 9am a week last Sunday (Sept 29), was an operations support officer at Gartree jail.
“He had had a lovely evening out in the town centre with work colleagues.
“They were paying tribute to a former colleague who had passed away,” she said.
“He left the pub and tried to go to a chip shop before setting off for home on the route he always took.”
In the darkness Mr Preocanin somehow ended up slumped over a 5ft wall in a garden inches below the kitchen window of a house in Roman Gardens, off Symington Way.
“I can only think he was confused by the wall and thought there was a gate there.
“He might have been slightly disorientated as well and took a wrong turn,” said Mrs Preocanin, who married Stevan in April 2018.
“I woke up at 4am that morning to find him missing and was obviously very worried.
“Stevan was due to go to work at 8am that morning and was going to pick up a colleague.
“He was very reliable and never let anyone down.
“I rang a friend who had been out with him and he’d got home but Stevan hadn’t.
“So I got dressed and went out to look for him with his big torch in the pitch-black night. It was about 5am.
“I went to the Rec (Symington’s Recreation Ground) and searched bushes and I went to the Nags Head pub as I retraced his route.
“But there was no sign of him.
“I feared he might have been mugged – anything could have happened.
“I got home about 6am and rang the police to tell them Stevan had gone missing.
“Then it was just a waiting game till they rang me to tell me they had found him.”
Sandra said her life has been torn apart after her beloved soulmate of 14 years was suddenly freakishly ripped away from her.
“The sense of loss is just overwhelming.
“I wake up on a morning and for 10 seconds my life is normal – then I realise Stevan isn’t there,” said the carer.
“I went to the opening of his inquest in Leicester on Monday and it suddenly seemed all too real.
“It is a real nightmare.”
Mrs Preocanin described Stevan, born and bred in Leicester, as the best man you could wish to meet.
“He was very hard working and insisted that nothing was handed to you on a plate.
“Stevan was very funny, had a brilliant sense of humour and was very decent,” said Sandra, who has two grown-up children.
“He’d shovel snow off neighbours’ paths in winter – he’d do anything for anyone.
“Stevan was a man’s man and had a lot of mates.
“He cared for everyone and we were very happy together.
“Stevan was a huge Leicester City fan and had been going since he was a kid when his dad took him.
“His dad came to this country from the former Yugoslavia.
“Stevan loved it when City won the Premier League in 2016!
“He also loved gardening and grew his own veg and we’d just started caravanning.
“We thought about the future and had so much to look forward to but now it’s all cruelly been cut short.”
Matthew Davies, acting deputy governor at Gartree Prison, also paid a touching tribute to Mr Preocanin.
Mr Davies said: “Stevan was 61 and had been in the service for 14 years.
“He had a strong and honest work ethic and was always willing to help.
“He was a well-respected and liked member of staff.”
He added: “Stevan had a good sense of humour which his peers appreciated and he was a valued member of the team.
“He will be greatly missed by all at Gartree.”
Police are not treating Stevan’s death as suspicious although experts are still trying to establish cause of death.
A full inquest into his death will be held at Leicester Town Hall on January 21, 2020.