Ilfracombe man Paul Atkinson lay dead in his flat for a week after letting agent missed body — (North Devon Journal)

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North Devon Journal 

Posted: March 14, 2013

A FORMER alcoholic lay dead and undiscovered in his bed for a week after taking a drug overdose, even after his letting agent entered his bedroom.

Paul Atkinson, who was 57 when he died in August last year, was finally discovered when the letting agent returned to his flat on Ilfracombe High Street for a second time at the request of Mr Atkinson’s daughter, an inquest heard.

Mr Atkinson, who was born in Leeds before moving to Ilfracombe in 1995, was last seen by his son on Monday, August 20.

But he wasn’t seen again until the Friday of that week, when Turner and Carr letting agent Matt Ray found him in his bed.

Mr Atkinson, who had a history of depression and alcoholism, had died after taking 128 amitriptyline tablets, an anti-depressant.

The inquest heard how Mr Ray had been at the Exmoor House flats on the Tuesday when a new front door was fitted.

He had attempted to give Mr Atkinson a new key but there was no answer and he left, after another tenant told him they hadn’t seen Mr Atkinson for a few days.

He returned two days later when he let himself into the flat and looked around, but saw no sign of Mr Atkinson in the neat and tidy flat.

“Although the duvet was bunched up it didn’t look like anyone was in the flat,” he told police in a statement.

Mr Ray was anxious to find Mr Atkinson as a recent change to his housing benefit had put his account in arrears.

He returned to the flat on Friday after Mr Atkinson’s daughter, Angela, contacted him anxious that she hadn’t heard from her father for days.

It was then that he found the body and police who arrived on the scene shortly after found empty amitriptyline packets.

A post mortem and toxicology report revealed Mr Atkinson had 11.1 milligrammes of amitriptyline per litre of blood in his body, an amount almost six times greater than the amount that is usually fatal.

Mr Atkinson’s son, Steven Mitchley, was the last member of his family to see him alive.

The pair went for a drink together on the Monday night when he told his son he had stopped taking his anti-depressants and had no money because he had been reassessed as ineligible for incapacity benefits.

Coroner John Tomalin accepted the findings of the post mortem and recorded a narrative verdict.

“There’s nothing written by way of a note which would give an indication Mr Atkinson intended to take his own life,” he said.

“To give a verdict of suicide I need to be sure, but clearly the number of pills taken shows Mr Atkinson intended himself serious harm.