Elderly man lay dead in Homerton flat for up to a year

Body found by the gasman

An elderly man lay dead in his flat in Homerton for up to a year until his body was found by the gasman.

Nelton Thomas, believed to be 84, was discovered in his one bedroom flat in Afred House, just off Homerton Road, on Wednesday lunchtime (January 11).

The official had entered the fourth-floor home to cut off his gas over an unpaid bill.

A neighbour said: “A gasman and a locksmith literally found the man’s bones in the bedroom. The stench was disgusting as the heating had been left on.”

Other people living nearby said the pensioner was not married and had no children. He is believed to have roots in Jamaica.

A police spokeswoman said they received reports of the discovery shortly before midday.

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“The electricity board had entered an address and the remains of a body were found inside,” she added.

Officers were not treating the death as suspicious.

A neighbour who moved into a flat next door nine months ago said he had never seen Mr Thomas.

And landlord Santuary Housing said it made several attempts to contact the pensioner last year but without success.

A spokesman said: “This is clearly a very sad and tragic case. Mr Thomas lived in general needs accommodation and was in full receipt of housing benefit which continued to be paid.

“During the course of last year we made a number of attempts to contact Mr Thomas. Our housing officer spoke to neighbours, a local hospital and the local authority. We also involved the police as we have no legal powers to enter the property.

“It seemed probable that Mr Thomas had left the area and in November we applied for a possession order. The court date for possession was set for next month.

“We were very saddened to learn of his death and hope Mr Thomas can now be laid to rest with the dignity he deserves.”

He added that the flat would now be refurbished and let as soon as possible.

The discovery echoes the tragedy of Joyce Vincent, 38, who lay dead in front of her TV in Tottenham until she was found in 2006.

It left residents questioning how no one had noticed.

But Mervyn West, 59, who has lived on the estate for most of his life, said: “Community spirit here has been in decline for many years. People don’t know their neighbours anymore.”