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Stench of death alerted neighbours to dead body in flat
THE decomposing body of a man found in a sheltered housing complex may have been there for up to a month, say horrified neighbours.
The body of a man, named by neighbours as William Collins, believed to be in his 80s, was found in his flat at Lincoln Green, Ronkswood, Worcester. However, judging from the smell and the number of flies in his flat, other residents claim he could have been dead for up to four weeks before he was found by police, who attended at 3.25pm that day to remove the corpse. Police said formal identification had not been able to take place and DNA submissions have been made to confirm who the man is. A police spokesman said: “Only once this has been established, the coroner can open and adjourn an inquest. “There is nothing to suggest there were any suspicious circumstances around the man’s death.”
Helen Scarrett, housing and customer services director said: "Our sincere sympathies go to Mr Collins' family and friends. His death is still being investigated by the police so it would be wrong to speculate further at this time."
The tenant did not subscribe to the warden service and was therefore classed as “living independently”.
Neighbour Arthur Russell, aged 70, said residents were first alerted when they noticed the flies in the window. Mr Collins had also left a key in the door.
Mr Russell said: “He was a good neighbour and a nice bloke to talk to. He thought the world of my dog, Patch, and he always said good morning to me. “I heard he fell over in town and hurt two of his ribs. I took my dog to the vets and I noticed he had left his key in the door. I rang the bell and he didn’t answer. “I was shocked about what happened. I was only talking to him before I went to the vet. I would like to know when the funeral takes place so I can buy a wreath. I don’t know whether he has any family.”
A woman, who declined to be named, said people became suspicious when there was a horrific smell. She said: “The wardens should have been checking up on him. It was quite a shock to everybody. People have all said it’s disgusting this happened. People are saying his body was there for a month.”
Patricia Biggs, aged 72, of Lincoln Green, said she called the wardens in neighbouring Chelmsford Court and initially there was no answer so she pulled the cord and got through to the office in Malvern. She alerted them about the flies in the property and a warden was dispatched. She said a community support officer also attended the flat and the body was removed.
She said: “The flies had been coming out into the neighbours’ houses. We have had to stay indoors with our windows shut or covered. It’s not been very pleasant.
“He didn’t want wardens interfering. It is not the wardens’ fault. I am angry with the powers that be and the way it has been handled. Okay, the police have to look and the forensics people have to look but for two weeks we have been stuck with a horrendous smell and terrible flies. We have had a lovely summer but you couldn’t go out and enjoy the garden over the bank holiday.”
Another resident who declined to be named said Mr Collins sent her Christmas cards. She said: “I was told he had been there three to four weeks. It was a shame really.”
The grisly discovery has prompted Brian Hunt, vice-chairman of the Worcestershire Pensioner’s Action Group, to call for no more cuts in services for older people and for lessons to be learned by Worcester Community Housing, which manages the site.
Mr Hunt said: “It is very sad. It is tragic that in today’s world this could happen, that somebody is left for this length of time. It is unacceptable. “We say this is a vindication for the action group’s efforts against the removal of the onsite warden.” He said the previous Labour government had removed funding for the onsite wardens but the coalition had done nothing to replace them. He said: “There are questions to be asked here about society as a whole. The body had badly decomposed. “There’s a lesson to be learned by Worcester Community Housing - we would expect them to learn from it. This demonstrates there can be no more cuts in older people’s services.”
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