Tuesday 21 January 2020

Man (82) was dead in front of electric heater for 7 months

Pathologist Margaret Bolster
Pathologist Margaret Bolster

An 82-year-old recluse who died in his home sitting in front of an electric heater went undiscovered for seven months.

Cork Coroner Philip Comyn told the inquest into the death of Richard 'Ritchie' Scanlan that it was "troubling" and "disheartening" that an elderly man could be dead in his home for so long in modern Ireland.


Mr Scanlan's body was found in his home at Madden's Buildings in Blackpool, Cork, last July 19.

The grim discovery was made when a relative, who was concerned about him, called to the property and alerted gardai.

Mr Scanlan had received great support from his family over the years, but insisted on living a reclusive lifestyle. He had been cared for by his sister, who died in 2001.

His family tried to maintain contact with him, but they would often see him only at funerals.

A post-mortem indicated he may have died in January.

The inquest was told by Gda Eric Stafford that he found the body, which was in an advanced state of decomposition, near an electric heater.

A quantity of unopened mail dating back to January 9 was found inside the front door.

Mr Scanlan had not wanted a mobile phone or a land-line connection to the house.

Gda Stafford said Mr Scanlan last visited his GP a year ago and last filled out his prescription on December 17.

He missed the collection of his pension which was due on January 4.

Neighbours described Mr Scanlan as "a very private individual who kept to himself"


Assistant State Pathologist Margaret Bolster, who carried out the post-mortem, could not determine a cause of death because of the advanced decomposition.

Gardai found nothing suspicious in the property and no sign of any trauma to the remains.

Coroner Mr Comyn said that, because of the post-mortem findings, an open verdict would have to be recorded.

"I find it troubling in this day and age with so many means of communication that this poor man slipped through the cracks," he said.

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