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Woman 'dead for a month'

A WOMAN with alcohol problems and depression may have been dead in her Chester home for more than a month.

A WOMAN with alcohol problems and depression may have been dead in her Chester home for more than a month.

The body of Patricia Elaine Eaves, 50, was discovered on March 8, but her partner Dr William Berriffe told a Chester inquest she could have died as early as January 31.

Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rheinberg heard Mrs Eaves began having mental heath problems in 1976.

She had overdosed with alcohol and tablets several times in the years leading up to her death and was offered hospital admission for treatment.

Mrs Eaves was also suffering from chronic liver disease, linked to her alcohol abuse.

Dr Berriffe, who lived with his partner in Haydock Close, Chester, was working in France at the time of Mrs Eaves' death and said he had no contact with her since the end of January.

The structure analyst said he was not too concerned about not being able to call his partner as she would sometimes change the telephone number without telling anyone.

Accountant John Clifford Jackson, of Tarvin Road, Boughton, Chester, spoke to Dr Berriffe about business at the beginning of March and said he had problems contacting Mrs Eaves.

'He said he had tried to phone and the number was always engaged as though the phone had been left off the hook,' Mr Jackson said.

'I tried to phone her on March 5 and then went round the following day but got no answer. I opened the letterbox and saw some mail lying on the floor.'

Mr Jackson was worried something was wrong and returned to Haydock Close two days later, on March 8.

'I was not happy, I was concerned,' he said. 'I went back to the house and knocked again. For some reason I leant on the door handle and it opened. I started to go inside but the conditions weren't good so I stepped back quickly.'

Police found Mrs Eaves in a collapsed state on the living room floor. She had been dead for some time and the central heating had been left on which accelerated decomposition.

Dr Berriffe believes Mrs Eaves died on or about January 31, because that was the date of the last phone call recorded on their itemised bill.

Her pension book for that date had been signed but not cashed, a TV guide for that week was in the house and a loaf of bread with an expiry date of February 3 was in the kitchen.

Consultant pathologist Dr Michael Myskow, who carried out a post-mortem examination on Mrs Eaves, said it was impossible to pinpoint a cause of death because most of her internal organs had decomposed.

He said he was sure she did not suffer a violent death and believed it likely Mrs Eaves died of natural causes, possibly liver or heart related.

He also said there was a chance she may have died from some form of broncho-pneumonia.

Mr Rheinberg said: 'We have been able to go some way towards uncovering the mystery of Mrs Eaves' death although there are still very serious doubts remaining as to what happened.'

He said although it was unusual to record death from natural causes when there is no firm cause of death, he believed that was the most likely reason 'on the balance of probability'.

Verdict: Natural causes


David Holmes
Chief News Reporter
David Norbury
Mike Fuller
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