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Answers call after woman found dead

By Euan Maxwell
Annan and Eskdale
Answers call after woman found dead

AN ANNAN woman lay dead in her house for “weeks” after her social landlord was given false information about her whereabouts.

The 43 year-old’s body was discovered in a property on Waterfoot Road last Thursday (July 29) after police broke down the door.

Neighbours contacted Annandale South councillor Richard Brodie the next day and told him that both the police and Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP), which owns the property, were informed about a smell coming from the house weeks prior to any knowledge of the death.

Councillor Brodie said that the body had been there “for more than four weeks, probably six”.

He added: “DGHP had been contacted for quite a while. The police say they have looked into it and said they didn’t have any knowledge.”

Furthermore, an email shown to the Observer reveals that the housing partnership said they “were informed” that the woman was living elsewhere.

However, the information DGHP received turned out to be false.

DGHP also said housing officers investigating reports of a smell at the property “could not detect anything”.

The email added: “I cannot confirm what caused the smell, but understood it was not overpowering from discussions had and the investigations carried out.”

It was only upon realising that staff had drawn a false conclusion about the woman’s whereabouts that DGHP authorised a welfare check with police present.

“We can’t break into properties unless we feel there is an emergency situation, and this information allowed me to attend with the police and force entry,” the landlord’s email to neighbours said.

Mr Brodie said: “The big question is where did DGHP get the wrong information about the whereabouts of the person.

“It’s obviously a very sad incident and when somebody loses their life it’s always a tragedy. It’s been a traumatic experience for neighbours and they will require support and that will be forthcoming.”

A DGHP spokeswoman said: “Our thoughts are with the woman’s family and friends at this difficult time.

“A big part of a housing officer’s role is to keep in contact with their tenants and, in this case, we tried many times — albeit unsuccessfully to contact this tenant after she moved in earlier this year. This included telephone calls and text messages and despite lockdown restrictions – visits to her home. Although we did have ongoing discussions with both neighbours and friends, we were unable, unfortunately, to establish contact with the woman herself.

“On July 29, we received information from another authority, which prompted us to contact the police and within an hour a joint welfare check was carried out at the tenant’s house.”

She added: “We’ve been in touch with neighbours to offer support to help them through this difficult time and we are here for anyone affected.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “The body of a 43-year-old woman was found in a property on Waterfoot Road in Annan shortly after 10am on Thursday, 29 July.

“The death is being treated as unexplained but non-suspicious and a report has been submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

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