A Victorian National party candidate who had been due to face court on rape charges has died days before the state election.

Shaun David Gilchrist was expected before court on 30 November charged with one count of rape and three counts of sexual assault ahead of a trial that had been scheduled for next year.

But the body of the 47-year-old was discovered at Rawson, in the state’s east, on Sunday.

Gilchrist was the Nationals candidate for Narracan, a seat that starts just outside Melbourne’s eastern fringe and finishes before the Latrobe Valley.

He is survived by his partner and two children.

The Nationals state director, Matthew Harris, described the death as tragic and unexpected.

“The Victorian Nationals express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Gilchrist, and our thoughts remain with them at this difficult time.

“The Gilchrist family has asked for privacy and respect during their time of grief.”

The premier, Daniel Andrews, issued a statement offering sincere condolences to Gilchrist’s loved ones.

“While Shaun and I had never met, I know he was respected by so many across the community for his warmth, his humour and his hard work.

“I have no doubt he shared the same ambition so many of us do in wanting to get involved with politics to change society for the better, and make a positive contribution to the community around him.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends, as well as his colleagues and his supporters, who are all grieving the most tragic of losses.”

More to come

  • In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org

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