Kingston woman lay dead for a week before neighbours reported smell to police

Rebecca Marles' body was found at her home in south west London.
Rebecca Marles' body was found discovered at her home in south west London

A woman lay dead for around a week before police forced entry into her Kingston Upon Thames home after neighbours reported a smell. Rebecca Marles' body was found at her home on King Henry's Road in January a week after she was last seen by neighbours on New Year's Eve, an inquest was told. West London Coroner's Court heard how the 46-year-old, originally from Oxfordshire, had lost both her parents when she was younger, as well as her brother.

She suffered from a number of mental health issues, including paranoid schizophrenia, and was a regular methadone user. Met Police were called to her home around 2pm on January 6 following concern for welfare after she failed to return to her local pharmacy to get her next batch of prescribed medication.

When officers arrived, there was an "unusual smell" and they were forced to knock down the door to gain entry to her flat.

Rebecca Marles was known to suffer from a number of mental health issues Credit: BPM Media

Officers found her body in a "decomposed state" on the kitchen floor, with a post-mortem report revealing that she had probably been lying there for close to a week.

She had last been seen on New Year's Eve. Met Police officer PC Lee Deakin, who attended the scene, recognised Ms Marles from a previous encounter when he had been called to her home following reports she had been burgled. He was able to identify her body. Her GP, Dr Peter Finney, told the court that she was first diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 2013, and has previously suffered multiple drug overdoses.

'Stressed and agitated'

She was on a number of medications and had been under the care of community psychiatric teams.

Mental health nurse Lucia Kendall added that she regularly smoked crack cocaine, and often reported feeling "stressed" and "agitated". The court heard how on December 31, she collected five days' worth of methadone, and a post-mortem examination and toxicology report revealed that she is likely to have overdosed on this medication, in combination with other prescribed drugs.

The medical cause of death was given as "respiratory depression", which is when carbon dioxide builds up inside the body. Recording a conclusion of "drug-related death", West London's assistant coroner Ivor Collett told the court: "It is clear that Miss Marles found herself in such sad and stark circumstances. She was a troubled person with a number of health problems, including drug dependency. "She lived alone and she received support from the medical services. It seems that on December 31, 2021, she collected five days' worth of methadone.

"It appears likely that she took a sufficient quantity of methadone with a combination of prescribed drugs, which brought about her death. "She probably took more than she should have in order to unsettle the effects that her medication would have on her normally. She was found face down on the floor, with marks on her head - which I believe indicate that she fell.

"Sadly she lay on the floor for around a week before she was found. Nothing suggests any intention, it appears to have been accidental."

If you, or someone you know needs help for drug addiction or mental health issues, there is a range of support available.

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