Tragedy of Bob’s lonely death in Lakenham

A 63-year-old old man suffered a lonely death at his Lakenham flat, and might have been dead for several months before his body was found.

Father-of-one Robert Reynolds, known as Bob or Bobby, whose body was found at his Trafalgar Street council flat in January, had last been seen in October the previous year.

Yesterday's Norwich inquest heard that the cause of death would never be known because Mr Reynolds had been dead for so long. The inquest was attended by Mr Reynolds's ex-wife Carol Wright and by his sister Doris Laws and her husband Ronald.

Mrs Wright, who was married to Mr Reynolds for about 10 years more than a quarter of a century ago, was the last person to see Mr Reynolds alive in October.

When she did not hear from him at Christmas or the New Year, she grew concerned, and police forced entry to his flat on January 4. Mrs Wright, who told the inquest that she kept in contact with Mr Reynolds, was too upset to talk after the inquest, but Mr Laws paid tribute to Mr Reynolds and expressed remorse at not doing more to keep in touch with his brother-in-law.

Mr Laws, from Thorpe, who is in a wheelchair, said: 'I just feel I could have done more for him. I did not put myself out and I feel so guilty. He was good to me when I became disabled and decorated for me. I wish he would have cried out for help.'

People in Trafalgar Street said yesterday that it was sad that Mr Reynolds had died alone and that his body could have been in the flat for a long time before it was discovered.

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A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: 'He was a friendly bloke and I used to say hello to him. We had a chat.

'It's very sad that he died and no-one was looking out for him. None of us realised that he was in such poor health. He used to have one mate who used to go to the pub with him, but I cannot remember many visitors.

'But I don't think it's an unusual thing at a block of flats for people not to know or see their neighbours for a long time. People get older and they tend to keep to themselves.'

A barmaid at Mr Reynolds' local, the Freemasons Arms in Hall Road, who did not wish to be named, said: 'He was a lovely man. He was a sweetheart, and no one had a bad word to say about him. We did not see him for a while before his death, and it was quite a shock to everyone. He will be sadly missed.'

Yesterday's inquest heard there was no evidence that Norwich-born Mr Reynolds had been alive after his last meeting with Mrs Wright in October.

Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said the amount of post left at his door suggested he had been dead for a considerable time.

Earlier, Mrs Wright told the inquest: 'In October last year he came to see my husband and myself. He looked very poorly. He was white and blue around the lips. He refused to see a doctor'

She said he was a heavy smoker and drinker but had not seen a doctor since February 2001, as he did not like them.

He had worked for Anglian Windows in Norwich up until the age of 60, when he was made redundant. She said he used to visit the nearby pubs.

'He used to go a lot with his brother on holiday but when his brother suddenly died, he did not get out so much,' she said. 'He would do anything for anyone and seemed quite happy with the life he was leading.'

Mr Armstrong recorded a narrative verdict and said there was insufficient evidence for the cause of death to be established, although it was likely he had died from natural causes.

He added: 'Bob was a popular, well-loved person, especially among children. I'm sure his family have many happy memories of him.'

Would you like to pay tribute to a loved one in The Evening News? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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