Town forum hopes for talks on Rolle

PUBLISHED: 09:30 13 November 2009 | UPDATED: 12:18 10 June 2010

FOR up to two weeks the body of former charity worker Amanda Bourne, 53, lay in a council flat at Littleham - and no one noticed. Suffering from mental illness and not accepting she had a problem, it appears as though no-one cared that Amanda, of Midway,

FOR up to two weeks the body of former charity worker Amanda Bourne, 53, lay in a council flat at Littleham - and no one noticed.

Suffering from mental illness and not accepting she had a problem, it appears as though no-one cared that Amanda, of Midway, who had previously worked at an Exmouth charity shop, was no longer out and about. She had died alone.

When her tragic life was finally unveiled at an inquest on Friday, there were just four people present - the coroner, two friends from the past and a reporter.

It took just 20 minutes to close the final chapter of a troubled life.

The cause of Amanda's death was recorded as 'unascertained' - there were no signs of violence, trauma, drug or alcohol use.

Her body had been left for so long before being discovered by police that a full blood test was all but impossible, the coroner revealed.

She was found on her bed with her hands across her chest, the inquest heard. A neighbour finally called the police because he had not seen her for 'four or five weeks'.

On entering the flat on November 7, 2008, police found unopened post dating back to October 20.

Amanda's plight yesterday prompted Mandy Williamson, the chief executive officer of East Devon mental health charity Mind, to say: "It's almost irrelevant she had mental health problems - it's a commentary on our society that somebody could die and remain unnoticed for two weeks.

"Regardless of if it is an old lady, a child or someone with mental health problems, every community has a collective responsibility to look out for the vulnerable."

Littleham councillor Ken Harper said: "We have a residents' association and it is not very well attended.

"There is a need for people to get together to care for each other as well as ourselves.

"If we do not, it is our community that will suffer."

The inquest heard Amanda suffered from depression, paranoia, anxiety and hallucinations.

Despite Amanda's referral to a mental health team, her doctor, Colin May, wrote in evidence to the inquest: "...she always found personal relationships difficult. She did not accept she had a problem."

The Journal this week spoke to a neighbour, who did not wish to be named. He said: "She seemed nice, but I didn't see her much. She didn't really go out."

One of Amanda's friends, Terry Coates, who attended the inquest, told the Journal that, in the years leading to her death, contact had been sporadic.

Another friend, Mrs Coates, who also attended, added: "It's sad she died in bed on her own and nobody knew."

Deputy coroner Darren Salter concluded the inquest by saying: "The likelihood is that her death was natural causes. The correct verdict in this case is an open verdict."

A spokesman for East Devon District Council said: "We can confirm the deceased lady was a tenant of an EDDC flat. She did not belong to our Home Safeguard scheme and so there would have been no opportunity for her to contact us if she had felt unwell.

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