Housing association apologises after man’s body is discovered in Bolton flat after six years

Bolton at Home says it's "completely unacceptable" that something like this has happened.

Emily Sergeant Emily Sergeant - 15th May 2023

A housing association has apologised for “missed opportunities” after the body of a man was discovered after laying dead for six years.

Robert Alton was found dead inside his flat on Hemsworth Road in Bolton on 9 March 2023, but the coroner ruled that he was believed to have died in 2017 at aged 70.

The “skeletal” remains of the retired bookkeeper laid undiscovered inside the flat for six years, and were only found after officials from housing association, Bolton at Home, forced entry to the property in order to carry out a gas safety check, an inquest heard.

Officials who found Alton’s body also discovered a half-metre high pile of unopened post, food with expiration dates in 2017, and a pair of reading glasses placed on a TV guide dated 4 May 2017.

Upon the discovery of his body, a police investigation was subsequently carried out, but ended by confirming there were no suspicious circumstances – with coroner, Peter Sigee, ruling at an inquest last week that the “appropriate conclusion is an open conclusion”.


Now, Bolton at Home, has issued a statement to apologise for the “opportunities we missed” and offer “heartfelt condolences”.

Housing association apologises after man’s body is discovered in Bolton flat after six years / Credit: Google Maps

Noel Sharpe, Group Chief Executive Officer at Bolton at Home says everyone at the housing association has been left “deeply shocked” by the incident, and realises it will “concern and upset people” to learn that Alton’s body remained undiscovered for such a long time.


Mr Sharpe admitted that it’s “completely unacceptable” that something like this has happened, and assures that it’s taken action to “reduce the risk of it happening again”.

“The reason we didn’t discover Robert’s death for so long is because our previous procedure, while meeting legal requirements, wasn’t strong enough to prevent something like this happening,” Mr Sharpe admitted in his statement.

“We’d made Robert’s home gas safe in June 2017 by turning off the gas supply externally after we were unable to contact him to arrange the annual gas safety check, and following this, we made many attempts to contact Robert over a number of years to arrange gas safety checks.


“[But] it’s clear that the action taken by us to understand why we couldn’t contact him didn’t go far enough, and opportunities were missed in spotting that something was potentially wrong.

“We should have done more to check on Robert’s welfare.”

Bolton at Home has issued a statement on its “missed opportunities” / Credit: Google Maps

Bolton at Home changed its procedure in July 2022, and now claims to immediately begin the process of seeking access to someone’s home via a warrant in instances where it can’t cannot contact them to arrange a gas safety check.

The housing association says it offers its “heartfelt condolences” to Alton’s loved ones, friends and neighbours.

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It also apologises for the opportunities it missed in finding out why it couldn’t get in contact with him.

Featured Image – Google Maps