Peabody apologises after resident lay dead for over two years in Peckham flat

Peabody apologises after resident lay dead for over two years in Peckham flat
Coroner says situation is ‘difficult to fathom in 2022’

A housing association has apologised after not realising a resident at one of its flats had been dead for over two years.

Sheila Seleoane, 58, had to be identified by her dental records when she was found in her flat in Peckham, south London, in February this year.

Residents of the estate had repeatedly complained to housing association Peabody of bad smells and maggots in summer 2019.

However, Peabody only made one “proactive attempt” to contact the tenant and cut off her gas.

An inquest found that both Peabody and the police had missed numerous opportunities to check on the resident.

<p>A forensic officer attending the property</p>

A forensic officer attending the property

In an open verdict, coroner Dr Julian Morris said: “There was a delay in raising any flags, there was no real communication as between rent, gas, and neighbourhood manager teams for someone who had until August 2019 and for over five years been in effect a model tenant.

“Any death is sad. To lie undetected for in all likelihood over two years is difficult to fathom in 2022.”

Ian McDermott, Peabody’s chief executive, said: “We weren’t asking the fundamental question: is Sheila OK?

“We’ve apologised to the family. We’re deeply sorry for what happened.

“The biggest apology though I think does go to the residents of Lord’s Court. They did tell us that something was wrong.”

Police had visited twice in October 2020 after receiving similar reports, but said they did not notice a bad smell and the officers did not feel there was enough evidence at the time to justify a forced entry.

The inquest heard that a Met Police misinformed the housing association that Ms Seleoane was safe and well in October 2020.

A spokeswoman for the Met Police told the BBC: “This response was based on information held on MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) systems as to the outcome of officer attendance that day.

“The staff member who documented that incorrect information no longer works for the MPS, but had they still been employed they would have been referred to Professional Standards for unsatisfactory performance.

“We sincerely apologise for the error and for any distress that it caused to the family of Ms Seleoane.”