Published: 00:01, 29 July 2013
A loner who was terrorised by youths and rarely left his home may have lain dead for months before his body was eventually discovered.
Reclusive Gordon Nicholls was found by police in his Perry Street, Maidstone, home after a neighbour raised concerns.
The 54-year-old, who would use the back door rather than the front to avoid taunts, was discovered on the living room floor beside an upturned chair, suggesting he may have fallen, an inquest heard.
Police forced entry on October 6, 2012 after a neighbour reported not seeing Mr Nicholls for several months.
Officers found food and cans of evaporated milk on the kitchen floor, but nothing perishable which may have given an indication as to when he died.
A cabinet in the living room containing car items was immaculate, and no valuables had been taken - there was even a £5 note on the floor.
The last time Mr Nicholls had been seen was August 31, when he attended Maidstone Hospital’s A&E telling staff he could not cope. He was discharged because he had nothing medically wrong.
A post mortem was unable to establish a medical cause of death, and was recorded as unascertained.
His sister, Jane Coombes, said her brother had an obsessive nature and struggled with social interaction.
He had become more introverted after his brother, Stan, whom he was very close to, was murdered 19 years ago. When their parents also passed away he deteriorated further.
Mrs Coombes said when she had seen him in February he seemed fine. “I said if you need any help, come to me, but I never heard anything more after that.”
He had told no-one of his visit to the hospital.
Mr Nicholls, his sister and brother Stan had all worked at the Syngenta plant in Yalding before it closed.
A former work colleague, Kathleen Gibb, said: “He would never make eye contact.
"He was difficult but his work colleagues anticipated that and accommodated him. He never had any friends or relationships.
"When his mother died, and his brother died, and later his father, Gordon’s world unravelled.”
Investigating officer DS Sophie Keeling said youths had been known to verbally abuse him.
“We knew that there was a little bit of background but he was more of a target than anything else. He was somewhat of a recluse and could have been a target for anti-social behaviour,” she said.
Mid Kent and Medway deputy coroner, Andrew Campbell-Tich QC, recorded an open verdict, as he said it was not possible for him to say how he had died.
The death of Mr Nicholls’ brother Stan remains unsolved 19 years later.
Mr Nicholls, who was 37 at the time, was shot as he left the Anchor Inn in Hampstead Lane, Yalding, in September 1994, but despite extensive inquiries, police never found any motive for the murder nor any clue as to the killers’ identity.
On the night of his death, he had gone to have a drink alone at the pub, half a mile from his home.
At 11.40pm, he asked a barman to let him out, but as he went through the door, two masked men, one armed with a sawn-off shotgun, burst in.
There were still 12 people in the pub. The gun went off and Mr Nicholls took a direct hit to the temple.
More by this authorAngela Cole