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Pensioner’s remains discovered at his home six years after he died

Robert Alton’s ‘skeletal’ remains were found at his home in Bolton in March.

Robert Alton’s ‘skeletal’ remains were found at his home in Hemsworth Road, Bolton. (Google Maps)
Robert Alton’s "skeletal" remains were found at his home in Hemsworth Road, Bolton. (Google Maps)

A housing association has apologised after it failed to check on a pensioner who lay dead in his home for six years.

Robert Alton’s "skeletal" remains were found at his home in Hemsworth Road, Bolton, in March.

A police and coroner’s investigation has concluded the 70-year-old’s death was not suspicious and that he likely died in May 2017.

Bolton at Home said although its previous procedures were legal, they had not been strong enough to prevent something like this from happening.

Police tape at the cordon across a crime scene
A police and coroner’s investigation has concluded Robert Alton’s death was not suspicious. (Getty)

The housing association said it made Mr Alton’s home gas safe in June 2017 by turning off the gas supply externally after it was unable to contact him to arrange the annual gas safety check.

Following this, it made many attempts to contact Mr Alton over a number of years to arrange gas safety checks.

The housing association obtained a court order to force entry into Mr Alton’s property on 9 March and that’s when his remains were found.

Noel Sharpe, Bolton at Home group chief executive officer, said in a statement: “Everyone at Bolton at Home has been deeply shocked by this and we realise it will concern and upset people to learn his body remained undiscovered for such a long time.

“It’s completely unacceptable to us that something like this has happened, and we’ve taken action to reduce the risk of it happening again."

Mr Sharpe added: “It’s clear that the action taken by us to understand why we couldn’t contact him didn’t go far enough.

“Opportunities were missed in spotting that something was potentially wrong. We should have done more to check on Robert’s welfare.”

The housing association changed its procedure in July 2022 and would now immediately try to access someone’s home through a warrant if they could not contact them to arrange a gas safety check.

Mr Sharpe said: “I would like to offer our heartfelt condolences to Robert’s loved ones, friends and neighbours and apologise to them for the opportunities we missed in finding out why we couldn’t contact him.”