Inside Housing – News – Body of second Peabody resident went undiscovered for months

The 35-year-old said he had raised concerns about Mr Watkins’ welfare with Peabody at the start of the pandemic, after the association sent out a leaflet outlining how it was going to support residents during the lockdown. He was believed to still be alive at this point. 

Mr O’Sullivan said he made repeated calls to Peabody over several months only to be told that a neighbourhood manager had been out to check on him.

He added that after Mr Watkins was found, he called Peabody to complain about the lack of checks but was told a visit “was logged on the system”. 

Emails from February this year shared with Inside Housing showed a Peabody area manager contacting Mr O’Sullivan to “discuss the concerns that you have raised about the passing of your neighbour Mr Watkins”. 

Ashling Fox, chief operating officer at Peabody, said: “It is terribly sad when someone dies alone at home, particularly if they have no next of kin or anyone to raise the alarm. We work very closely with residents at Wild Street, and looking at all the circumstances of this case, it is difficult to see how we could have known about the situation.”

In the days after the body was found, residents continued to discuss the association’s response in their WhatsApp group. 

One noticed that the windows on Mr Watkins flat had “been left open by the people that went in, obviously to air the place”.

A 25-year-old resident, who preferred not to be named, told Inside Housing that after clearing out the home they had just left a padlock on it for a number of months before new tenants moved in.

The resident said: “Nobody has said anything about what has happened. They just cleaned and left the window open and someone else has moved in after about six months.”

Another resident in her 40s said she felt guilty because she could have checked on him more.

“It’s really sad. It’s a life, there needs to be more consideration for people. It plays on your mind,” she said. 

A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “Police were called on Monday 19 July 2021 to a concern for welfare of a man who lived at the address.

“Officers attended and forced entry. A man, aged in his 60s, was found deceased inside.

“The death was not treated as suspicious and a file was passed to the coroner.”

The Westminster Coroner’s Court said there was no inquest because Mr Watkins “died of a natural cause” and the case was closed as a result. 

The story has emerged just two weeks after prior revelations about a dead body being left undiscovered in another one of Peabody’s properties.

Police also forced their way into another flat in Peckham, south London, on Friday 18 February after concerns had been raised about a 61-year-old woman’s welfare.

Sheila Seleoane was found in her housing association flat at Lords Court after her body was left undiscovered for two years.

Peabody chief Ian McDermott has promised to launch a fully transparent investigation into “what went wrong”.

Ms Fox said: “While the circumstances are very different to the case of Sheila Seleoane, we are requesting that it be included as part of the independent review. This is a close, strong community and we’re grateful to residents for their support locally.”

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