Retired marine Benjamin Collins found dead in filthy room filled with bluebottles and cat faeces

Wimbledon Guardian: Retired marine found dead in filthy room filled with bluebottles and cat faeces Retired marine found dead in filthy room filled with bluebottles and cat faeces

A retired marine was found in a filthy room filled with bluebottles and cat faeces before he died of hypothermia, an inquest has heard.

Benjamin Collins, also known as Frank, 64, was found slumped in a chair at home in Woodstock Way with his daughter Jacqueline Collins who has learning difficulties.

The pair had refused help from social services, the court heard, but Merton Council has admitted there “were lessons to be learnt” from the tragedy.

Mr Collins was taken by ambulance from his home in Woodstock Way, Mitcham, to St George’s Hospital where he died on December 9, 2010.

On Wednesday, Westminster Coroner’s Court heard Merton police constable Alison Way tell the court: "There were bluebottles everywhere. They had landed in her hair. There was cat faeces all around the room . . . the smell of the property was quite overpowering."

PC Way said the daughter came across as child-like and did not want to accompany her father in the ambulance saying she had not been outside for three years.

PC Way said: "She kept repeating ‘He’s going to die, isn’t he?’ I know he’s going to die.’"

She added the daughter told them Mr Collins, who had a bottle of urine next to him, had not eaten or left his chair all week.

Jemma Harries, from the London Ambulance Service, told the court that Miss Collins said her father would not want to go to hospital.

Ms Harries said: "We had to cut the carpet to get the door open to get the gentleman out of the property."

The court heard the daughter rang the police on December 9, giving a false name and saying her father suffered a head injury the previous week.

On November 30, the father and daughter had refused to go in ambulance, which arrived after doctors failed to come out in response to calls from a neighbour.

The reclusive pair had previously refused care from social services, who tried to visit the home on December 2 but could not enter so asked the neighbour for updates.

Helen Cook, head of access and assessment at Merton Council, said some concerns passed on in April had not be picked up as urgently they would be now due to a handover between staff.

But she believed the refusal for help would have been the same, noting they were still trying to work with Ms Collins and had not accessed the flat for two months.

Ms Cook said: "It was a tragedy. We have learnt a great deal by being able to look at our processes."

She added she did not think Ms Collins had full insight into her father’s deteriorating health.

She said: "Stuck in her mind was ‘dad does not want to go to hospital’."

Coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox said in her preliminary view she was not considering a verdict of neglect or unlawful killing.

Dr Wilcox will sum up the case on Friday, September 14, after hearing from a doctor at St George’s Hospital about him chances of survival if he had been taken to hospital on November 30 or December 8.

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