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Woman, 40, lay dead in front of TV for two years

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Splatted
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Woman, 40, lay dead in front of TV for two years

Postby Splatted » Sat, 15 Apr 2006 4:49 pm

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/st ... 77,00.html

Woman, 40, lay dead in front of TV for two years
April 15, 2006
LONDON: A woman lay dead for more than two years with her television still on before she was discovered by a housing officer inquiring about overdue rent, an inquest has heard.

Joyce Vincent, 40, who once worked for the advertising agency Saatchi &Saatchi, was found in January this year in the main room of her tiny north London flat, surrounded by unopened Christmas presents and with the heating still running.

Hornsey Coroners Court heard that relatives and neighbours had failed to raise the alarm.

"This is a real tragedy and a very upsetting case," investigating officer Detective Inspector Michael Ainslie told the family in court.

The discovery was made when an officer from the local housing authority, the Metropolitan Housing Trust, took a locksmith to the flat after thousands of pounds of rent arrears had accumulated.

They drilled open the front door to find a huge pile of unopened mail, the earliest dated November 2003. Medication in Vincent's name with a 2003 expiry date was also found.

Local Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone said: "First of all, we have to ask, where was everybody?

"It's tragic that there were no friends or family there. There should have been a number of authorities involved in Ms Vincent's life.

"Someone should have been asking why her rent wasn't paid. Where were social services? How did this poor lady fall through the safety net?

"This case shows the need for a human checking process. It just shouldn't happen in this day and age.

"In the city of London you will get a lot of people living alone and living their own lives. This is a reminder to all of us all that we should look out for our neighbours."

The Anglican Bishop of Willesden, the Right Reverend Peter Broadbent, said: "I think in London we have an issue about the fact that neighbourhood is not as real as it used to be and we need to work at how we build a society where we know our neighbours.

"We should know the person who lives next to us as well as the person we work with or socialise with."

A housing association spokesman said: "As housing benefit was in part paying the rent we only became aware of the problem when the rent fell significantly into arrears.

"We'd like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family."

Simon Uranie, who lived close to Vincent's flat in Wood Green, said: "I am appalled to hear what happened. This is a huge block of 200 flats. A lot of people live here on their own. Everyone keeps to themselves."

Another neighbour, Ngosi Tobin, said: "I think it's terrible. I only know a few neighbours and I hardly see them.

"In other countries people know their neighbours but here they don't. It is so sad but it is easy to see how it would happen."

Pathologist Simon Poole told the court Vincent's body was so badly decomposed that she had to be identified by dental records, using a photograph of her smiling for reference.

He added that the state of the body made it impossible to ascertain the cause of death given that the remains were "largely skeletal".

Detectives told the inquest that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. The coroner recorded an open verdict.

The Times

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Postby Bubbles » Sat, 15 Apr 2006 6:55 pm

Truly tragic, tragic. People will say that this is indicitive of life nowadays here in the UK, or anywhere in the world where society is barging onwards at a speed of knots.

I'd like to disagree, even for the London Area. Yes, of course, cases like this will slip through the net. Think also about all the poor tramps and homeless ones. But I've lived there many times, in lots of different types of housing, believe me. Some nice, some totally yuckkie, yet within London, it's like lots of smaller 'villages'...you get to say hi to the next door neighbour, or the postie, or the peeps in the pub, or the guy on the tube who walks down your road each night. But however awful it is it's more to do with the number of people who live in an area. The more there are, the more to slip through society's net.

(Mind you, Plavt will have an opinion on this, as he lives nearer there now, and I know, Plavt, that some neighbourhoods are v.dangerous, so this maybe why this woman stayed in.)

I don't mean to sound heartless. I don't think I know of a more dreadful way to leave the world......unaccounted for, not wanted. How awful. But think....how many will leave this world unknown....from say Buenos Aires or downtown Madras, or wherever. The big places...

There's lots of bad things to say about living in a small community as I do now, a country village....the nosiness, the gossiping, the claustraphobia....but there's little chance of going unfound for longer than a few days.

Also, much has to do with the person who died. Did she make an effort to make friends? Did she smile or say hello to anyone, even if she only went out once a week? How did she get her food? She must have shopped or someone would have done if for her. If she did online shopping, surely someone would have seen the Tesco van or whatever, delivering? She may have been ill, depressed, of course....and not ventured out anywhere, but must have gone out sometimes.

What I'm saying is that even though this story makes the UK look heartless as neighbours, it really is not that normal and everyday an occurance. There are people who care here, even though there's a general view that it's all 'stiff upper lips and never speaking'....not true, not true at all.

But of course, I am now a country mouse, and left my town mouse job years ago, but still stay in town, and life is harder, for sure. But I would still say that this terribly tragic account is the exception, rather than the norm. God rest her soul.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas.

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Postby Splatted » Sat, 15 Apr 2006 7:09 pm

The part that saddens me the most, all the presents they found around her. Where were all the relatives? Did she buy them hoping they would visit during xmas?

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Postby Plavt » Sat, 15 Apr 2006 7:32 pm

Yes Bubbles you are quite right I do have an opinion and hopefully I can put things into perspective. The ‘smaller villages’ you refer to are something that belongs in a past era. Very often neighbours do not see or hear the person next door save the noisy type that are now so common. The pubs have in many ways lost their social atmosphere and become grounds for drug dealing in some areas. The postman/woman is rarely the same person for more than a few months. When one goes to the supermarket the same is true of many of the cashiers who are often students while local businesses come and go.

Of course when you live in a street you do see some people as regular thing and say hello but that’s about as far as it goes. There are a large number of migrants here of which a considerable number do not speak English as their first language. This is especially true of where I live which has a large Greek and Turkish-Cypriot community being replaced or supplemented by an influx of Kurds and Poles. Simply asking for a can of broad beans in a local shop was quite a task.

However, London has a lot of crime and social problems and the anonymity of the city makes it both an attractive and lucrative market for those of criminal and other untoward intent. As a result many people tread warily of neighbours and keep themselves to themselves.

The incident mentioned says something about housing trust which here in the capital have got a bad ‘rap’ for high rents and inefficient service. Although I fail to understand how they did not notice rent arrears accruing the way they were. Just how her heating ran for such time without the supplier noticing I do not know but she might have paid on direct debit which might not have warranted much attention.

I am sorry to say this is not as uncommon as people may suppose since I remember when I worked as an operator for British Telecom some of the calls that came in referring to an unpleasant indicator that somebody had passed away. I will spare you the grim details but should I suffer a similar fate, I assure you it would go unnoticed for some considerable time.


Plavt.

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Sat, 15 Apr 2006 8:09 pm

Talk about slipping through the cracks!

I have to assume she had electric heat or why didn't the oil run out long ago. Even if she did have electricity which according to the article she did if the TV was still on (good TV) how come the utility company didn't shut it off after so long non-payment. Are Utilities free in the UK? She didn't stink during decomposition? And as you say splatted, all the Xmas pressies unopened around her. Were they for someone or from someone? No phone? No unanswered calls with curious people/relatives? Something strange there as well.

I wonder, did she go before or after Xmas? probably after when nobody ever came to see her she may have died of a broken heart. Poor old girl.

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Postby Plavt » Sat, 15 Apr 2006 8:30 pm

Sms,
As regards utility bills in the Uk; some people have budget accounts where a set amount is deducted every month which can be increased or decreased automatically by the supplier using a direct debit. She seems to have had a good job and might well have had ample funds to cover this or maybe her pension was payed directly into a bank account which is possible since government benefits can be. Why nobody noticed a smell though is a mystery. Maybe her relatives are those who live in other countries, like all these events some things we never know.

Ps: The heating would have been gas powered central heating (most likely here) which is a permanent supply . Oil heating here is unheard of.

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