Mystery over death of Hackney man preoccupied by thoughts of the devil, after his body decomposed in his flat

A man’s body decomposed to such an extent after he lay dead in his flat in Evergreen Square, Haggerston, it was impossible to pinpoint the cause of his death.

Poplar Coroner’s Court heard how Alimsalu Bakarr, 60, was found at his home in Evergreen Square, Haggerston on January 24, 2010, after his concerned son could not contact him and called the police.

After forcing entry to the squalid flat, police discovered the lifeless body of the overweight diabetic man, from Sierra Leone, sitting on the floor in front of the TV with his back against a chair.

Bandages to his ulcerated legs were blood-stained and next to him was a small bucket containing an unidentified dried brown substance, which was also found in other rooms of the flat.

Neighbours had not seen or heard Mr Bakarr for at least a week.

Police deemed the death non-suspicious, and pathologist Professor Michael Sheef said the post-mortem had been hampered by decomposition, making it impossible to identify the cause.

Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said there were lots of potential reasons why a man of his age and medical history could die.

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“His GP did say he had become a bit eccentric and suspicious, and the community nurse who came to change his dressings said the flat was unkempt, but he let them in and seemed to be relatively well,” she said.

But Pc McDonald. of Queensbridge safer neighbourhood team had requested a mental health review in April 2009 after discovering Mr Bakarr had phoned police 91 times in six weeks, mostly to report that “the devil was in his living room”.

A psychiatric nurse reported that Mr Bakarr was preoccupied by thoughts of the devil, who he had begun cooking for, but when a doctor tried to visit him in August he was furious and insisted he did not have a mental health problem.


The doctor concluded there was not enough evidence of imminent risk of harm to himself or others to carry out the assessment.

His ex-partner, Mrs Helen Akban, had told social services she was concerned about his mental health.

Mrs Akban was offered the chance of a second inquest as the first was conducted by an unqualified coroner, Suzanne Greenaway.

Dr Radcliffe returned an open verdict, saying there was insufficient information to come to any conclusion. about Mr Bakarr’s death.