Shellharbour Hospital's mental health unit death: Mum mourns son

Joseph Gumley's ashes will be thrown to the wind in the bush he so dearly loved near his home town of Ulladulla.

Speaking to the Mercury on Monday, Mr Gumley's adoptive mother, Betty, said although her son had lived a rough life, he had always been good to her.

Mr Gumley, 47, was killed in the early hours of Friday morning at Shellharbour's high dependency mental health ward.

"I loved him so much, it's just hard to fathom someone would do that to him," she said.

"He was a good son, he never did any harm to me ... he was there if I needed him.

"He just liked to be free, live on the street - that was his choice."

Police have alleged Paul Hindmarsh, 31, fatally assaulted Mr Gumley with the dead man's own electric guitar.

Mrs Gumley remembered her son's passion for music and his desire to be free.

She said he had opportunities to live in a house but preferred the solace of the bush.

"He said: 'I don't want to live in a house, I want to be free' ... he liked the bush," she said.

"Everybody looked out for him and made sure if they saw him in the streets, they would give him something to eat."

Mr Gumley was a common sight on the streets of Ulladulla, busking with his guitar. He slept rough, regularly camping or sleeping in public toilet blocks.

Mrs Gumley said there had been an overwhelming response from the community since her son's death, with many people offering her their condolences.

"Everyone was good to him," she said. "I'm still having visitors and phone calls from different [people]."

Mrs Gumley said the last time she spoke to her son was the Tuesday before he was killed.

"He always said: 'I love you mum.' I miss him and I'll always love him, no matter what."