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Body of man discovered after lying in flat for six years

The horrific discovery of his ‘skeletal’ remains wasn’t made until this year

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The body of a man, aged 70, was discovered in his flat six years later, highlighting issues of loneliness and neglect.

Robert Alton, a retired bookkeeper, is believed to have lain dead in his flat for six years and was only found when housing officials forced entry to carry out a gas test.

He is thought to have died aged 70 in May 2017, but the horrific discovery of his ‘skeletal’ remains wasn’t made until this year, an inquest heard yesterday.

A court order to enter Mr Alton’s address in Bolton was obtained by landlord Bolton at Home for the visit on March 9th. Officials forced entry and used an angle grinder to cut a security chain.

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As reported in The Daily Mail, once inside, unopened letters were piled around 50cm high and Mr Alton’s remains were found at the top of the stairs of his first floor flat, in jeans and a grey jumper.

Police were called to the property.

Detective Sergeant Dominic Beaver of Greater Manchester Police said neighbours hadn’t seen anybody at the flat for at least five years.

Inside the ‘neat’ property, police found a television guide for May 4th, 2017, open with reading glasses left on one of the pages. Food items were also found to have 2017 expiry dates.

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The detective added there were no suspicious circumstances. The inquest heard Mr Alton last spoke to Bolton at Home in April 2017, and council tax had been paid up to that year but was then in arrears. He last contacted his GP in 2014.

His rent was still being paid up to the time of his discovery, via housing benefit. Mr Alton was identified through personal items but no relatives have been traced.

Dr Patrick Waugh, pathologist, said it was ‘not possible to determine a cause of death’.

Coroner Peter Sigee said: “On the balance of probabilities Mr Alton died in May 2017. I’m satisfied the appropriate conclusion is an open conclusion.”

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Mr Alton’s landlord revealed its visit only came after a change in procedure prompted officials to obtain an access order in court.

The inquest was told that over previous years, officials made 15 visits plus telephone calls and sent dozens of letters seeking to arrange a gas test, all without response – but no further action took place.

After the hearing, Noel Sharpe, chief executive of landlord of Bolton At Home, said: “We offer our heartfelt condolences to Robert’s loved ones, friends and neighbours and apologise to them for the opportunities we missed in finding out why we couldn’t contact Robert.

“In hindsight, we should have spotted sooner that something was potentially wrong.”

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An inquest heard that officials visited Mr Alton’s home on two occasions in June 2017 to perform an annual gas safety test. But they obtained no answer at the property and his supply was simply capped without further investigation.

The procedural change which led to Mr Alton’s discovery was not made until 2022.

Amid the cost-of-living crisis, Bolton at Home decided to stop automatically capping gas supplies if tenants had not allowed a safety test, and there was a review of homes where supplies were previously capped.

In light of the incident, Bolton At Home says it now applies for an access warrant immediately when it cannot contact a tenant about a gas test. Its tenant support team also works ‘more closely’ with the gas safety team ‘where there may be welfare concerns’.


Stagecoach hiring over 100 new bus drivers for Bee Network with £31k salaries

Fancy a career change?

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Stagecoach Manchester is hiring over 100 new bus drivers to work from its Oldham depot, following the second phase of the Bee Network launch in March.

You can apply for a range of roles, from positions with no experience required to fully qualified bus drivers.

Successful applicants will receive full training as part of the job, and trainees will get paid to train. Then after only 12 months’ service at Stagecoach, drivers can expect to earn up to £16 per hour, which equates to £31.6K per year, before overtime.

As well as that, drivers that already hold a PCV licence may be eligible to receive a £1,200 joining bonus.


There’s also a host of other benefits available to all Stagecoach employees, like 28 days paid holiday, generous pension and free Stagecoach bus travel for successful applicants and a companion.

Rob Jones, Managing Director at Stagecoach Manchester said: “Expanding our offering in Oldham means we’ll be investing more in the economy and supporting our local community, as well as strengthening our workforce.

“Whether you’re looking for a career change or you’re a fully qualified, experienced bus driver, there’s a role for everyone here in Oldham.

“We’re looking for personable and dedicated drivers who are ready to help us build on the success of the Bee Network and connect the people of Oldham and Greater Manchester with the places and people that are important to them.”


Phil Cornwall, bus driver at Stagecoach Manchester, said: “I’ve been a driver at Stagecoach for 25 years and I couldn’t recommend it more.

“From the perks to the people to the passengers, it really is a great place to work.”

To apply, head to the Stagecoach website HERE.

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Two men charged with murder after torso discovered in Salford nature reserve


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Greater Manchester Police

Two men have now been charged with murder, following the discovery of a human torso in Kersal Dale.

As well as that, more suspected human remains were also discovered this morning, Monday April 29th, in an alleyway close to the railway lines off Worsley Road, Eccles.

This follows earlier discoveries of human remains over the past three weeks, at Kersal Dale, Blackleach Reservoir and Colliery Wood, all in Salford.

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Michal Jaroslaw Polchowski (25/04/1956) and Marcin Majerkiewicz (10/04/1982) both of Worsley Road, Eccles, have been charged with murder.

They are set to appear at Tameside Magistrates Court this afternoon.

While formal identification is still ongoing, the remains found at Kersal Dale are believed to be of a local man in his 60s. The remains found at the other three locations are still to be tested, but police are confident they belong to the same victim.

ACC Sarah Jackson said: “We have had large numbers of officers, staff and specialists working diligently on this investigation over the last three weeks. It has been very much a large, collective effort, with the victim and family at the heart of it from the outset.

“We have specially trained officers deployed to support the family as they come to terms with this tragic news. They are aware of this morning’s further discovery and will continue to be kept up to date with how we are progressing.

“Despite the charges brought today, our work is far from over.

“The scenes we already have established in Bury and Salford will remain in place for much of this week whilst our searches and enquiries continue. Local officers will continue to patrol the impacted areas to provide reassurance.

“We will continue following every line of enquiry to recover and reunite the victim with his family, bringing a dignified end to this terrible scenario.

“I’d like to thank the communities of Salford and beyond for their cooperation throughout this investigation. I know this incident has come as a shock, and the support we’ve had from those in the area is very much appreciated.”

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More human remains discovered in Greater Manchester as police identify victim

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Detectives investigating the discovery of a torso in Kersal Dale have found more human remains around Greater Manchester.

GMP released a statement on the weekend, revealing they had opened four scenes for extensive searches – one of them at a warehouse in Bury, and three in Salford.

Searches took place at Blackleach reservoir, where human remains were found, and a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood.

Officers believe they have now identified the man, who they believe to be a man in his 60s that lived in Salford, and his family have been informed.

Two suspects have already been arrested in connection with the murder probe, with officers saying they are thought to have lived with the victim.

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Detective Superintendent Lewis Hughes, Senior Investigating Officer for this investigation, said in a statement at Blackleach reservoir yesterday, Sunday April 28th: “We have continued to make significant progress in our investigation into human remains being found in Kersal earlier this month.

“From day one, our priority has been to identify the man and his family so that we can give them the support and the answers that they need.

“Thanks to meticulous forensic work, we are now confident we have identified the man. Formal identification hasn’t yet taken place, but we believe he is a man in his 60s and lived in Salford.

“Specially-trained family liaison officers have met with his family this afternoon to give them the devastating news, and we will do all that we can to support them at this awful time.

“We believe he is known to the two suspects we have in custody. They have remained in custody for questioning over the weekend, as we work to establish how the victim met this tragic outcome.”

He continued: “We have painstakingly worked to follow up every line of inquiry in this investigation. Over the last couple of days, we have acted on information and had four scenes in place for extensive searches – one of them is at a warehouse in Bury, and three of them are in Salford, including here at Blackleach reservoir.

“Today, we have found some human remains at the reservoir here, and last night a dog walker found a package containing human remains at Colliery Wood. Forensic tests will continue to establish whose remains these are, but we are very confident that this is also the victim in our investigation.

“We have also been searching a house in Winton where we believe the victim and the two suspects lived. We have found evidence that the victim is likely to have died there – most likely in late March.

“While this is significant progress, we know there is still some way to go to complete this investigation. I also recognise details of this case will have been distressing for the people of Salford and beyond – including the officers that are diligently working on this investigation, and most importantly the man’s heartbroken family.

“Local officers will continue to patrol the affected areas, and we will provide updates when we have more information.”

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