The friend of a “vulnerable” man, who lay dead in his Brixton apartment for eight weeks, has spoken of the moment she found his decomposing body.
Steve Simpson was found in his flat in Farmleigh House, Loughborough Park, last Wednesday.
Friend and former neighbour Jo Hull says Mr Simpson’s treatment by landlords Guinness South could have contributed to his death.
Ms Hull said: “I had been away on holiday for a while, and I’d been phoning him but with no answer.
“When I got back on Wednesday I was knocking on his door. His neighbour Mary came out and told me she was worried too. So I smashed the window and got in using a ladder.
“I thought there was a chance he could be dead or very ill and needing help. But when I got inside I could smell the smell. I was kind of expecting it and I found him in his living room with the door closed.”
She added: “Looking back, I’m glad he was found by a friend and not just anybody.”
Mr Simpson’s only close family is thought to live in Australia.
Mary O’Boyle, who lives next door to Mr Simpson’s one-bed flat, said she had been in to the estate office on a “weekly basis” to tell them she was worried about him. She said she also a complained of the “indescribable” smell which was coming from his flat, but was told it was a “hygiene matter” and no action was taken.
Earlier this year Guinness South took Simpson and a number of others to court to have them forcibly evicted from their homes on the estate. The housing trust is in the process of demolishing all the 1930s-built blocks and replacing them with 525 newly-built homes.
Ms Hunt told the Blog: “I think the process is what killed Steve. Not just going to court, but when he moved into the new flat it wasn’t ready. The boiler wasn’t working and the toilet leaked.
“Steve was very active and cared about people there and cared that Guinness were not behaving as they should be,” she added. “He didn’t want to move, and was a vulnerable alcoholic, but they [Guinness South] didn’t appreciate that.”
Margaret Dodwell, managing director of Guinness South, said: “We did have one report of a smell that was investigated. Our enquiries, which included more than one visit to the property in question and contact with a neighbour, advised that the tenant had been heard ‘coming and going’. There was also no evidence of any smell.
“If Guinness South had had any cause for concern, we would have followed this up immediately. We do however respect our tenants’ right for privacy and it is not unusual for them not to answer their doors.”
She added: “We have offered support to neighbours of the deceased.”
Neighbours have set up an action group website in memory of Mr Simpson, www.gtlp.org.uk.