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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
Dead man not found for six years
A 63-year-old man's body lay undiscovered in his council flat for nearly six years, an inquest was told.

The body of Kenneth Mann, from Carless Street, Walsall, was found last June when a neighbour's grandson forced his way into the flat.

Black Country coroner Robin Balmain recorded a verdict of death by natural causes on Tuesday.

He said: "Society needs to ask how such a situation could arise in the 21st century."

Drunken fall

Mr Mann's badly-decomposed, fully-clothed body was found lying on the bed of his first-floor flat.

The inquest heard that the man who found the body had gone to collect his grandfather's belongings because the flats were due to be demolished and he became suspicious about Mr Mann's flat.

The coroner said it appeared the 63-year-old had fallen through the net despite repeated visits and letters by the housing trust, the Benefits Agency and the Pension Service.

After the inquest, Walsall Council's chief executive Annie Shepperd, said the discovery would have been made sooner, if the flats had not been due to be demolished.

She said that the flat would have been rented to another tenant, and while it was being prepared for them, the body would have been found.

Pads found

The inquest had heard that the council believed he was no longer one of its tenants.

Mr Mann, who was described as a loner and a "bit of an eccentric", died on or about 23 September 1998.

He had been admitted to the accident and emergency department of Walsall Manor Hospital after a drunken fall the day before.

The doctors had carried out an ECG test and Mr Mann was found with one of the pads from that test in his socks.

Some people who visited the flat over the years were told by neighbours that he had moved or died, the inquest was told.

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