Funeral held of lonely OAP 'abandoned' by town hall chiefs

Well-wishers gathered for the funeral of an elderly UK man thought to have been dead in his bath for two months before police broke into his council flat and found him.

Those at the Camberwell New Cemetery, south London, service included friends and members of a church to which Nigerian-born Kingsley Idahosa, aged 74, of Oswyth Road, Camberwell, south London, belonged.

His landlord Southwark council has been heavily criticised for failing to act after a neighbour and friends alerted them several times that Idahosa, who lived alone, had gone missing in November last year and a foul smell was coming from his ground floor home. Idahosa's body was not found until January.

Bad publicity orchestrated by embarrassed town hall chiefs into picking up the tab for Idahosa’s burial.

Rev John Walker, who conducted the service, told us afterwards the funeral was allowed just 30 minutes at the church because “social services are paying for it”.

An inquest returned an open verdict on Idahosa's death, in other words it could not decide what the cause was.

Veteran housing campaigner Piers Corbyn launched a devastating attack on town hall chiefs earlier in the year for failing to come to the rescue of one of their elderly tenants.

Council officials twice visited Idahosa's home, after his upstairs neighbour contacted them to say he had been missing for weeks and a foul smell was coming from his ground floor flat. But they did not ask police to break down his door.

Police found Idahosa's badly decomposed body in his bath on January 7 after a concerned friend rang them. The-latest broke the story the same day and it was followed up in the media, including Southwark News and Britain’s biggest selling paper, The Sun.

Corbyn, elder brother of Labour leader, Jeremy, told the-latest: “This is an utter disgrace. Southwark don’t seem to care about vulnerable single elderly people, like poor Mr Idahosa, living on their own.”

Corbyn, who has been for decades a thorn in the side of the council over what he claims is its poor housing record, added: “I would like to hear an explanation from them as to how this was allowed to happen.”

He demanded an independent public inquiry “to look into this latest Southwark housing department scandal”.

Friend Lawson Ekpo told the-latest at the funeral: “I’m sad the council did not do well. They were informed there was something not right happening in Kingsley’s flat but did not act.”

He added: “I think he was left dead in the flat for two months and that’s disgraceful. Public sector officials need to look after the people not just grab their money.”

Next door neighbour Audrey Walker, who had known Idahosa for 10 years, said: “The circumstances of his death are very sad, that no one [at the council] took any interest in him whatsoever.”

She went on: “This tells us that today’s society is extremely uncaring. Not enough care is given to vulnerable, elderly people.”

* Photography: Belgi Alidor and Marc Wadsworth