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Decomposing pensioner's body found three months after death

No.16a Arden Street, Gillingham
No.16a Arden Street, Gillingham

by Chris Hunter


The decomposing body of a pensioner was only found almost three months after his death when boys broke into his house, an inquest heard.

Anthony Yarwood, who had no family, died alone in his bedroom in Arden Street, Gillingham, aged 70 on May 1.

His body lay undiscovered, slumped against a bedside cabinet, as post piled up and friends left messages on his answerphone wishing him a happy birthday on July 15.

But it was not until Thursday, July 29 that the grim discovery was made by chance.

Neighbours reported a burglary at Mr Yarwood’s house – next to The Monarch pub – telling police three youths had broken in at about 5.40pm.

An inquest at County Hall, in Maidstone, on Tuesday heard two teenagers were found in his kitchen and arrested.

Believing a third offender was in the house, officers forced open a door from the kitchen, which was bolted from the inside.

After searching a downstairs room piled high with household goods, DI Noble said Acting Sergeant Vicky Best went upstairs and into the bedroom.

She found not a third offender, but Mr Yarwood’s decomposing body, “kneeling with the head leaning forwards against the bedside cabinet”.

DI Noble said burglary was ruled out as the cause of death due to the “advanced state of decomposition”.

He added that a dictaphone found in the house and a calendar with dates crossed off until April 30 provided good evidence of how long the man had been dead.

Mr Yarwood was later identified after police traced a friend through his mobile phone.
Neighbours were horrified to learn how a dead man lay undiscovered for so long.

Stephen Cornish, a regular at The Monarch, said it was “shocking” that he had been drinking just yards from the body.

A hairdresser at Designer Crew, in High Street, said: “If those boys hadn’t broken in, he’d still be there.”
A woman in a flat in Phoenix Court, behind Arden Street, said: “He was a very nice person - a friendly and nice neighbour. We spoke and I always gave him a card for Christmas. I was really upset when I found out.”

The inquest heard there was evidence Mr Yarwood had health issues and had been taking medication, but the cause of death could not be confirmed.
Mid Kent Coroner Roger Sykes recorded an open verdict.

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