Body of pensioner found on day he may have been sectioned

PUBLISHED: 07:00 29 June 2011

coroners court

coroners court

Archant

THE body of a ‘proud’ pensioner was found in a Weston flat on the day he may have been sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Royston March was living in ‘squalor’ with just a partially-broken halogen heater to keep him warm during Christmas 2010, an inquest heard this week.

Mr March, who was an aocoholic, had been assessed by his GP, Dr Peter Maksimczyk, 16 days before his body was found in his Meadow Street flat in Weston.

The visit had come about as a result of concerns raised by Stacie Price, who worked for Mr March’s former landlord and who told Flax Bourton Coroners Court on Tuesday that she feared the pensioner would ‘die cold and alone’.

She had spotted the confused 83-year-old struggling in the snow on December 22, 2010, with his trousers around his knees and with a cut hand, and called North Somerset Council’s social services team.

Mr March had a long history of rejecting medical help, prompting Dr Maksimczykto to request a serious mental health assessment in the new year.

However, despite checks over Christmas by social services, the police and other agencies, a mental health team found the pensioner’s body on January 6. He had been dead for some time.

The court heard how Mr March, who was born in Weston, had an underlying heart problem that neither he nor his GP knew he had and a pathologist concluded that had caused a problem with his heartbeat and caused his death.

Dr Maksimczyk told the inquest on Tuesday: “It can happen at any time and sometimes without symptoms.

“If you’re not looking after yourself in can increase the chances of it happening.

“When I saw Mr March in July he was civil and polite, but made it clear he did not want to be examined.

“But by December he was confused and abusive.

“The normal process would have been for the council’s mental health team to assess him, but I felt it was inevitable he would bat it away, so I asked for the other assessment – by definition it is an urgent process.

“I felt it was the lesser end of urgent of an urgent process.”

Several pieces of evidence at the inquest described Mr March as a ‘proud man’ and the inquest also heard how Mr March had refused to go into sheltered housing.

Assistant coroner Dr Simon Fox recorded a verdict on Tuesday of death by natural causes and said it was Mr March’s heart problem that caused him to die.

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