Body lay in home for three weeks

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The Independent Online
A WOMAN OF 78 lay dead for up to three weeks at the home she shared with her family with the words "Help Me" scrawled on the walls of her bedroom, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mary Stansbie's relatives believed that she was asleep - and said they were used to her taking to her room for up to two months at a time. Mrs Stansbie, who suffered from dementia, died from a blood clot, triggered by the fact she had not moved for at least 10 days. She was discovered by a district nurse at her home in Smethwick, West Midlands, on 18 December 1997.

Mrs Stansbie's daughter, Mary Widdows, told yesterday's hearing in Smethwick Council House that she checked on her mother a week before she was certified dead, and believed that she was sleeping. She said she did not suspect there was anything wrong as her mother often took to her room for six to eight weeks at a stretch.

Maureen Capewell, a district nurse, told the inquest that she called at the house to visit Mrs Stansbie, who lived with her daughter and two granddaughters, and found her dead in bed. The words "Help me" and "No Help" were written on the walls, she added.

Pathologist Dr Kenneth Scott told the hearing that Mrs Stansbie's death occurred no fewer than 10 days, and possibly as long as three weeks, before her body was found.

Sandwell South coroner Peter Turner recorded an open verdict.