A GAS engineer could be one of the last people who saw a vulnerable woman alive – before her body lay undiscovered for nearly four years.
Laura Winham’s “mummified” remains were found by her estranged family in her flat in Woking, Surrey, in May 2021.
2Laura Winham’s body was found in her Woking flat in May 2021Credit: PA2Laura was not visited by social services for over three years, a court heardCredit: PAThey visited to say their dad had died, before police broke in after a brother thought he saw a foot sticking out from a sofa.
Laura was identified through dental records.
It was thought the 38-year-old schizophrenic may have died in November 2017 following “self-neglect”.
But at a pre-inquest review into her death on Monday, concerns were raised about “irregular” signatures on a gas safety certificate dating back to January 2018.
The family’s lawyer, Kate O’Raghallaigh, said contractor Mears Ltd provided a certificate following a visit which did not seem to match other examples of Laura’s signatures.
The lawyer told Surrey Coroners’ Court gas engineer remains “a very important line of inquiry”.
Ms O’Raghallaigh added: “It may be that the court will undertake further inquiries over whether he [engineer] can be located because in one version of events.”
The visit – which later saw her gas shut off – was the last time Laura was reported to have been seen alive and efforts are now being made to track down the gas engineer.
Laura lived with schizophrenia but wasn’t checked on for three years and seven months by her mental health team or social services, MailOnline reports.
It’s just heartbreaking to think of how she lived in her last few years, unable to ask for helpNicky, Laura’s sister
Housing benefits paid her rent and a gas safety check continued to be carried out each year.
The troubled woman had fallen out with her family due to her struggles and lost all contact as a result.
Police have said they are satisfied there was no third-party involvement in her death.
Laura’s sister, Nicky, said social care and mental health teams had “turned a blind eye” and everybody with a duty of care had “wiped their hands of her and forgot her”.
“It’s just heartbreaking to think of how she lived in her last few years, unable to ask for help, without anyone there for her, it’s just tragic”, she added.
‘TURNED A BLIND EYE’
It was previously thought Laura had died in November 2017 as she crossed off dates on a calendar in her house – these stopped around this time.
“I need help” had been written on the same calendar around the same period.
Ms O’Raghallaigh said Surrey Police officers visited Laura’s flat when she was still alive in October 2017.
She said they reported their concerns – that she had been neglecting herself and had little access to food – to the county council.
Katie Ayers, representing the county council, said the authority accepts a care assessment for Laura should have been done after the police visit.
A cause of death has yet to be determined, which Ms O’Raghallaigh described as a “very unusual factor in this case”.
Another pre-inquest review for March 15 and set a provisional full hearing date for April 3.
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk