Dead body found in Peckham flat TWO YEARS after neighbours first reported bad smell

Neighbours say they began complaining to the housing association landlord about a “foul smell” in the building in October 2019.

The body of a skeleton has been found in a Peckham flat - after reports of a bad smell by neighbours for more than TWO YEARS.

Police have confirmed the body of a 61-year-old was discovered in Peckham, off Queens Road, on Friday.

Locals say the victim owed thousands of pounds in rent and her letter box was overflowing.

A forensic officer (L) & an ambulance (R) parked outside the building. The body of a skeleton has been found in a London flat - after reports of a bad smell for over two YEARS, neighbours said. Credit: SWNS

Neighbours say they began complaining to the housing association landlord Peabody about a “foul smell” in the building in October 2019.

But it wasn’t until earlier this week that officers finally forced the door and found the woman had died.

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A young woman who lives next door said: “It’s disgusting and I’m just shocked. I have been living here since 2008.

“It’s a small three story complex. I didn’t know her very well, but she would sometime collect my deliveries for me.

“I came back from a trip abroad in September or October 2019 when I noticed a horrific stench in the building.

“It was so bad, I had to put a towel under the door.”

Letters piling up at the property. The body of a skeleton has been found in a London flat - after reports of a bad smell for over two YEARS, neighbours said. Credit: SWNS

Neighbours became increasingly concerned when her mail began piling up and a forced entry notice for a routine gas check appeared on her door in 2020.

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The neighbour said: “We repeatedly called the housing association because it was weird - her letter box full and I could see from the letters she hadn’t been paying rent.

“I called them up again and said I hadn’t seen this lady in months.

“The police came but they said lots of people had moved out of London during the pandemic and she could be abroad.”

A bike parked outside the flat. Credit: SWNS

A bike was abandoned in front of her door a short while later and again neighbours complained after it wasn’t removed.

They say police attended the property on several occasions but did not break down the door until earlier this week when they discovered the woman’s body.

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The neighbour said: “Finally yesterday the police came after someone called and complained about the smell again.

“They broke down the door and it revealed what I had feared the whole time - that she was dead.

“They told me she was basically a skeleton and asked me to confirm her ethnicity.”

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“I think it raises a big question about the relationship between a very big social landlord and their tenants.

“They’re there to serve the tenants, they should listen, talk to them and understand what’s going on. It’s right from March 2020 that concerns were being raised.

“You have to feel so sad for this woman herself and what happened to her, but also the horror for her relatives and the sadness and sense of dismay from those other tenants in the block, who were living on the other side of the wall from this and who were noticing the smell, the post building up and were worried about this fellow resident of this block of theirs.

“People knew her and saw her going in and out and she was a perfectly neighbourly person, not a recluse or a hoarder or something like that.”

Camberwell and Peckham MP Harriet Harman. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

And Ms Harman revealed that emergency services were called in October 2020, but did not access the flat.

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“There is a big question mark about how she died - and there is a big question mark about the police and what they did,” the Labour MP said.

“In October 2020, an ambulance was called but there was still no entry to the flat.

“I have raised this with the borough commander and they are looking into it.”

And the former deputy Labour leader wanted to make clear that this situation wasn’t down to lack of community amongst neighbours.

She added: “I don’t think there was a lack of community in this block. I don’t want people to think this was a block where nobody cared about each other and nobody looked out for each other.

“That wasn’t the case - they raised their voices repeatedly, and talked to Peabody but they just hit a brick wall.

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“I just think it’s horrific and nobody wants to think in this day and age that this can happen to two women in London and they can just die on their own.”

A police spokesperson said: “At 7.01am on February 18, police were called to a flat in St Mary’s Road, Peckham.

“Concerns had been raised about the welfare of a woman who lived at the address.

“Officers attended and forced entry. The body of a 61-year-old woman who was deceased was found inside.

“The woman’s death is being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.

“A file will be prepared for the coroner.”

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A spokesperson for Peabody said: “We are saddened to learn that our resident has passed away.

“Our dedicated tenant and family support team carry out regular welfare checks with people who may be vulnerable.

“We did make repeated attempts to check on the resident and liaised with the police to try and make contact.

“We are offering support to neighbouring residents, who will understandably be upset, and our teams are there today.

“We are working closely with the authorities and will investigate all of the circumstances and actions taken in this case.”