Council tenant lay dead in flat for four years

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The Independent Online
A PENSIONER lay dead in his flat for more than four years as a council continued to send him court summonses over rent arrears, an inquest was told yesterday.

All the summonses were sent by post to John Sheppard, 69, a retired security officer, at his one-bedroom flat on the Stonebridge Park Estate at Harlesden, north-west London. His death went undiscovered until last December, when workmen broke in to investigate a water leak.

He was sent a vast amount of mail over the years, including summonses and notices of a possession order and rent arrears.

Barbara Row, manager of Brent council's tenancy services, said the council had since changed its policy and included with its summonses a personal contact through the social services.

Recording an open verdict, the Hornsey coroner Dr William Dolman said: 'This is the most extraordinary case that has come to the notice of any court I've been involved in.'

He added: 'One has to say that the facts relating to this case demonstrate the most extraordinary complacent approach to this matter by the London Borough of Brent . . . One hopes that no such event will ever take place again.'