Recluse Jean Hall dead in her home for months with Christmas cards on her Sittingbourne doorstep: Inquest
A pensioner only had coffee and sugar in her kitchen cupboards when her body was found – three months after it's thought she died.
Jean Hall was discovered in a chair in the back living room on the ground floor of her home in Chalkwell Road, Sittingbourne, on March 1. She was 80.
An inquest into her death heard she was a reclusive person who lived alone and rarely answered the door.
Mrs Hall's Sittingbourne home
It was only discovered she had died when her gardener of 10 years, Mike Hopkins, returned for the first time since November after a winter break.
He had put a note through the letterbox a week earlier to notify her that he would be coming back.
When he knocked on the door for payment he could hear the television on very loud.
Despite her reclusive nature, Mr Hopkins, who gave evidence at the inquest, told police she always expected him and never failed to answer the door when he called.
After finishing another job he was still worried so spoke to a neighbour, who called the police.
The last time he saw her, Mr Hopkins said: “She looked a bit dishevelled.
“She said she was using medicine so I assumed she was going to the doctor for something. She was a frail person anyway.”
Flowers left at Mrs Hall's home
Police initially had suspicions about the circumstances of Mrs Hall’s death as there was a broken latch on a gate and the side door was unlocked.
The kitchen cupboards were also open and largely empty.
However, the pathologist who dealt with the case said it was not uncommon in cases of hypothermia for homes to be found in this way.
One of her trainers was also found in the garden.
The post-mortem examination found no signs of any third party being involved in Mrs Hall’s death.
There were takeaway containers on the floor which appeared to be her only source of cooked food.
The television was still on and an electric heater nearby was unplugged.
It was ruled she passed away in early December as there were a number of Christmas cards found on her doorstep – the earliest was postmarked December 9. There were no confirmed sightings of her after this date.
Other unopened letters included bills and a reminder from her GP about a missed appointment.
At her last check-up, she was found to weigh just six and a half stones.
Her next-door neighbour went to knock on her door in early January to check if she was OK.
There was no reply but he could hear the TV on very loud.
The inquest was heard at the Archbishops Palace in Maidstone
Mrs Hall also failed to attend a Christmas dinner with a lady believed to be a friend.
Senior coroner Patricia Harding said: “The kitchen looks relatively unused from the photos and all the items she would have been using on a day-to-day basis were nearby.”
Senior coroner Particia Harding ruled Mrs Hall died of natural causes, which were aggravated by self-neglect.
A toxicology and pathology report carried out on her body also suggested evidence of ketoacidosis - a condition caused by a lack of insulin in the body.
It was ruled that a combination of malnutrition, hyperthyroidism and exposure to the cold resulted in her death.
Next of kin have not been located and solicitors are now dealing with what will happen to her estate.
It is known she was born in Sittingbourne under the maiden name Overy.
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