Worthing woman not found for weeks after dying during lockdown

A Worthing woman’s body was not found for weeks after she died during lockdown.

Ruth Cox was found on June 9, inside her flat in Shelby Road, Durrington, after a neighbour complained of flies coming from their pipes.

Her sister Fiona Barnham had previously called for changes to mental health services and the way police handle these incidents, after her son and his fiancée were allowed in to her maggot-infested flat.

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Speaking to the Herald previously, Fiona claimed the coroner’s office suggested the family could visit the flat and find any sign of when Ruth may have died, such as a bottle of milk’s expiry date.

Ruth Cox's body was found weeks after she died at home in Shelby Road, Durrington

Despite being told by police the flat was ‘quite tidy’ when they were handed the keys, Fiona’s 28-year-old son and his fiancée, who went in ahead of her, were not prepared for the awful scene they were confronted with.

Fiona said: “The outline of her body was black on the floor, and the flat was infested with maggots and flies.”

She added: “It was just horrific; worse than any horror film you could imagine. They were traumatised by it.”

Sussex Police Superintendent Miles Ockwell acknowledged their failing and apologised to Ruth’s family.

At an inquest held on September 22, assistant coroner Karen Henderson said the cause of Ruth’s death was ‘unascertainable’ and added: “The deceased had a long history of personal and mental health problems.”

She recorded an open conclusion, an option given to coroners when there is not enough evidence to make another decision.