Hastings man’s body found in his flat weeks after his death

Police
Police

A Hastings man’s body was found severely decomposed inside his flat after neighbours complained of a bad smell, an inquest has heard.

The body of 76-year-old Michael Elphick was found inside his flat in Torfield Close, Hastings, on June 18, 2019.

An inquest into his death, held in Hastings on Tuesday (October 8), heard his body had been so severely decomposed that a post mortem examination had not been able to conclude a cause of his death.

Tina Barberry, the scheme manager for the housing provider where Mr Elphick lived, said neighbours, who claimed they had not seen him for about two weeks, complained about a smell coming from his flat.

She alerted the police who attended at 2.38pm on June 18.

PC Andrew Hubbard told the court he was forced to kick open the door to Mr Elphick’s flat as the locks had been changed.

Before gaining entry, PC Hubbard said he could instantly detect the smell of a dead person – a smell he has encountered a ‘number of times throughout his career’

Once inside, he found Mr Elphick face down with his head close to the foot of an armchair. PC Hubbard said Mr Elphick was fully dressed on his top half, but had his jeans down around one of his ankles.

He told the court a search of the flat found no evidence of any drugs or alcohol or any third party involvement.

A bottle of milk was found in the fridge which had gone out of date approximately two weeks previously.

PC Hubbard told the court: “I told Tina what I had found and asked her to find the relevant information relating to his next of kin. Tina replied ‘I don’t think he has anyone’.

“When she retrieved the piece of paper he had filled out, in the box relating to next of kin details, this said ‘got no one’.”

Senior coroner for East Sussex Alan Craze returned a conclusion of death from natural causes.