‘Utilities cut off may have caused death’

A pensioner whose body lay in his home undiscovered for up to 10
months may have died after his gas and electricity had been cut
off, a coroner has revealed.

The remains of Robert Jones, 71, were discovered at his Westminster
flat when he failed to reply to letters and demands after falling
into arrears with his rent.

His case follows that of George and Gertrude Bates, both in their
eighties, who were found dead in October in their house in Tooting,
south London, two months after they were cut off by British

Westminster coroner Dr Paul Knapman said that he feared Jones might
have died after his gas and electricity had been cut off. His body
was not found until a caretaker forced entry to his flat in
November last year despite the fact that he had not paid his rent
since January.

City West Homes, which manages the accommodation for Westminster
Council, had already been criticised for procedural “shortcomings”
by the coroner following the death of another tenant last

Director Karen Dodds admitted there had been problems but said she
was unaware whether or not the gas and electricity had been turned
off. The coroner adjourned the case until March so that further
enquiries can be made.

A spokesperson for City West Homes said the company had revised its
practices last year for checking tenants in arrears, adding that
the coroner had said he was satisfied with the changes.

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