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Tragic Colin 'lost in system'

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: March 05, 2014

VULNERABLE ADULT: Colin Williams, whose body lay undiscovered for three weeks after passing away in his flat in Tregonissey Close, St Austell.

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THE BODY of a St Austell man may have lain undiscovered in his home for almost a month, an inquest has heard.

Colin Keith Williams, aged 57, was found dead at his St Austell home on April 9 last year, having been last seen on March 14.

And now the agencies involved in his care will be contacted by Coroner for Cornwall, Dr Emma Carlyon, in an attempt to prevent future deaths.

Mr Williams, an alcoholic who lived alone at Tregonissey Close, had been an alcoholic for more than two decades.

In a statement read during the proceedings at Truro Coroner's Court on Wednesday, Colin's sister Lynn said her brother moved into the flat owned by Ocean Housing in St Austell in 2007 and his life seemed to go from "bad to worse".

Lynn said her brother's alcoholism had caused a number of medical conditions including cellulitis and he had been told by the hospital both his feet might require amputation.

He had stopped showering, eating, and would drink a bottle of spirits a day. Sometimes he would not answer the door and had boarded up windows.

Bottles of mostly unopened prescribed medication were found around his house.

Despite a vulnerable adult referral being made it had been deemed Mr Williams could make decisions about how he lived.

Mr Williams was assigned a social worker, received visits from a private domiciliary agency to help keep his house clean, as well as being visited by the adult social care early intervention team.

But after he discharged himself from hospital on February 25 he twice refused help from the service and on March 14 his case was closed to the team.

Neil Powell, Mr Williams' case co-ordinator for the early intervention team, said: "He refused all help from our service."

His sister said: "He seemed to get lost in the system. We knew he could be difficult but it was like no one could be bothered. Colin was a vulnerable adult within the community and they had a statutory duty to look after him," she said.

"All he needed was some professional help and I believe if he had received it he would still be alive today."

She last saw her brother on March 14 and spoke to him on the phone three days later.

Lynn called on her brother on the three Thursdays which followed but when he didn't answer the door, she did not think at the time anything untoward had happened.

His sister said the family was devastated when they discovered Mr Williams had died and distressed to think his body may have lain there for some time.

William Dean, who lived in the same block of flats, found Mr Williams after they noticed an unusual smell over a few weeks.

When he arrived at the entrance the smell became stronger. When he went inside he discovered the badly- decomposed body of Mr Williams in the kitchen.

A pathologist was unable to ascertain the cause of Mr Williams' death, adding it was likely he had been dead for weeks rather than days, when found.

Dr Carlyon, recording an open verdict, offered her condolences to the family, which included Mr Williams' daughter Maggie, who was present at the inquest.

Dr Carlyon will be writing to the agencies involved in Mr Williams' care, with regards to how teams can work more closely to provide support for clients with multiple need and who have chronic alcoholism.

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  • NBG1971  |  March 05 2014, 11:12AM

    not lost in the system.....in a system that doesn't work!

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