Hoarder, 75, lay dead for up to a year before ‘mummified’ body found

John Arthur Noble was found dead at his run-down home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in April (Picture: Huddersfield Examiner/MEN Media)

A reclusive dad-of-four lay dead inside his cluttered and barricaded home for a year before his ‘mummified’ body was discovered, an inquest heard.

John Arthur Noble, 75, was found deceased at his run-down home in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, in April after neighbours told police they hadn’t seen him for at least 12 months.

One of the paramedics estimated he may have been dead for much of that time due to the ‘mummified’ state of his remains.

An inquest into his death heard that the front door of his home in Golcar Brow Road, Meltham, was blocked by a large pole that formed a makeshift barricade.

Mr Noble’s body was found next to a sofa surrounded by hundreds of empty cigarette packets and several bottles of urine.

His son described him as a ‘hoarder’ who lived in ‘squalor’.

One of the attending officers told the court: ‘John was in a state of what I can only describe as mummification.

‘I conducted a search of the property to find many rooms full of items of food, beer and videotapes.

‘I went through the house where there were several containers with urine in them. These were all downstairs around the house.

‘At the front door, he had placed a long wooden pole inside the property to block the door shut.

‘There were piles of mail dated 2020. The food in the property was dated 2019 and 2020 which said to me it had been there for some time.’

Detectives later ruled out any suspicious circumstances.

Neighbours in Golcar Brow Road in Meltham said they hadn’t seen him for up to 18 months (Picture: Huddersfield Examiner/MEN Media)

Neighbours told police they only saw Mr Noble when he collected shopping deliveries at his front door.

One said she had raised concerns about Mr Noble several years ago but nothing was done as he was deemed to have capacity, the inquest was told.

Mr Noble’s brother, Roy, who attended the house after the body was found, told police he had seen his brother a year ago and he would not answer the door to anyone, leaving them having to speak through the letterbox.

He said his brother had problems with local youths who had often damaged the windows which had then been boarded up.

Roy said his brother became a recluse after splitting with his partner 30 years ago.

In a statement Mr Noble’s son, Gary, said he was estranged from his father. He said the former labourer hadn’t worked for many years.’

Gary said: ‘I had not seen him for 29 years. My father sadly pushed people away due to his drinking and also his mental health issues.

‘I cannot offer much information about my father as we have had no contact for the last 29 years.

‘My mother and father split up over 30 years ago and when they first split I did try to maintain a relationship with him but all he ever did was push me away and that meant having no relationships.

‘From what I have learned since my father’s death is that he was a recluse. He never really saw anyone and he had no friends.

‘The neighbours did try to help him and he even pushed the neighbours away.’

Gary said his father had also previously told social services ‘where to go’, adding: ‘My father didn’t see anyone at all except the Sainsbury’s delivery driver.

‘My father was a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker and he had a very poor diet from what I could see when I went to clean his house.

‘The walls were stained yellow and there were hundreds of empty cigarette packets.

‘I would describe him as living in squalor and being a hoarder. My father had no contact with anyone I know of and I am unaware of anyone being able to offer any information about his life.’

The coroner, Martin Fleming, recorded a narrative conclusion, noting that the advanced state of decomposition made determining a cause of death impossible.

He said: ‘Very sadly in this case, after the split with his wife some 30 years ago John became something of a recluse, shunning family, friends and neighbours, along with any possible help from doctors and social services.

‘I’ve heard it was extremely uncommon for his neighbours to see him as he very rarely, if ever, left his home address.’

Mr Fleming added: ‘There is clear evidence that John was not looking after himself and self-neglecting.

‘This is such a sad case. It’s clear that John needed help. It’s clear he was self-neglecting but it remains unknown if this caused or contributed to his death.’

Mr Noble’s other son, Gavin, who attended the inquest, told the hearing: ‘The ending to this tale was one, as a family we always knew would turn out this way because of how he was, and his behaviour.’

Mr Fleming told Gavin: ‘The great sadness and tragedy here is that John felt the need to live his life in such a very sad way, to the exclusion of others. That is very sad indeed.’

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