A CHESTER man may have been lying dead in his bed for two weeks before he was discovered by a caretaker, an inquest heard.
Robert Cooper, 45, of Glyn Garth, Blacon, Chester, was unrecognisable when he was found in his flat by caretaker Mark Walkington, of Lower Bridge Street.
Mr Cooper was described by his GP as grossly overweight, weighing between 20 and 25 stone, and had a history of hypertension. He had been told on a number of occasions that he must lose weight by his GP.
He was married to Hazel Cooper, who lives in Kent, but they had split up in 1999 and in 2001 he had moved back to Chester where he grew up.
Robert was friendly with the caretaker Mr Walkington and almost every day he would drop into his office for a chat on his way home.
'The last day I saw him was about November 10,' Mr Walkington told the inquest, which was held on Wednesday in Chester.
'He came into the office as normal. He was telling me about his head, he had bumped it quite badly over the weekend.
'He had been on a friend's farm on Sunday and he was getting on to a tractor and used two bars to pull himself up and there was a pole sticking down and he had hit it and it had gone into his head.
'It looked quite nasty. I asked if he had been to the doctors but he said it was clearing up.
'I didn't see him over that weekend, but I thought he might have gone away.
'It got to Monday, November 25 and I thought about Rob again. I was getting worried by then.'
Mr Walkington phoned his super-visor who sent over a housing officer to enter the flat with him.
'I still didn't realise when I went into the flat, I could see the mound on the bed. I didn't think it was him, I was quite shocked. I picked the bed cover up and pulled it back. I wasn't able to recognise him.'
James Cooper, Robert's father, who lives in Helsby, saw him a fortnight before his death and described Robert as a happy-go-lucky sort of character.
Dr William Kenyon, a consultant histopathologist at the Countess of Chester Hospital, carried out the post mortem examination on Robert and was unable to find a cause of death because the body had decayed so much.
He said it was likely that Mr Cooper had been dead for two weeks before he was found.
'It makes it almost impossible with this degree of decomposition,' said Dr Kenyon. 'If I was to speculate I would guess it was due to the enlarged heart and hypertension, but I would use the word 'guess' as an accurate description.'
Cheshire coroner Nicholas Rhein-berg recorded a verdict of natural death.
'Mr Cooper was about to start a new employment so Mr Walkington wasn't surprised when he didn't appear as he usually did.
'As time went by and work men were unable to get access to the flat, Mr Walkington became worried and was given permission to enter the flat.
'He made the shocking discovery of Mr Cooper dead in bed. It was quite obvious that he had been dead for some time. It is possible he had died shortly after he had last seen him.
'It has been impossible for Dr Kenyon to reach any formal conclusion. The most likely cause of death is connected with his past health problems and that would fit in with evidence from his GP, but reaching such a conclusion would be speculation.'
Verdict: Natural causes.