Woman whose body was found at her flat may have been lying dead for months

A woman whose body was found surrounded by water in her ‘swamp’ flat may have lay dead for months, neighbours have revealed. 

The victim – who was named locally as Caroline McCrossan and was in her 60’s – had complained of ‘torrents of water’ flooding into her home from the flat upstairs dating back to March last year, it is claimed. 

But housing bosses failed to take action and no apparent welfare checks were carried out. 

Her body was discovered last Friday when workmen finally forced their way into the one-bedroomed council flat just yards from Guy’s Hospital in south east London

The victim - who was named locally as Caroline McCrossan and was in her 60’s - had complained of ‘torrents of water’ flooding into her Southwark council flat (building pictured)

The victim – who was named locally as Caroline McCrossan and was in her 60’s – had complained of ‘torrents of water’ flooding into her Southwark council flat (building pictured)

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the death. 

But MailOnline has discovered that neighbours, who last saw the victim alive in August 2022, feared the property may have been subject to a break in. 

One of three window panes on the front door had been smashed which could have allowed an intruder to gain access to the property. 

The broken window had been covered up with a black bin liner which had been taped to the front door.

One shocked neighbour said: ‘I dread to think what could have happened. That poor woman was living in appalling conditions and nobody seemed to care. 

‘Nobody has seen her since last summer. I thought she may have gone away to stay with relatives. 

‘A few months ago one of the windows on the front door was smashed and was hastily covered up with a bin liner which had been stuck on with tape. It wasn’t secure. 

‘It was only when the council people came round last Friday that they secured it properly with a wooden board screwed not the door.’ 

Neighbours on the Tabard Gardens Estate told how the ‘isolated and vulnerable’ victim, who was thought to have lived alone, had been ‘abandoned to her fate’ by the authorities. 

The victim reportedly raised the alarm last March after water began flooding into her first floor flat from a pipe leaking in the property above her. 

It became so bad that the water began pouring through the ceiling of ground floor neighbour Jeffrey Frimpong, 35, who lived below. 

The father-of-two told how he reported the leak to Southwark Council, which owns and runs the estate, on March 9 last year. 

But officials failed to act despite him bombarding them with complaints. 

He said: ‘When I went into her flat it was like a rainforest. There was water pouring down everywhere. I’ve never seen anything like it. 

‘There was so much water on the floor in the kitchen. It was fast flowing like rapids. 

‘She complained to the council about it and so did I but nobody came and nothing was done. It’s disgusting that people are forced to live like that. 

‘I have been emailing them and calling them but no-one would come out. 

‘It became so bad that water was pouring into my gas metre and the electricity. The bulb in my bathroom blew up because of it and they’ve taken away the smoke alarm. It was so dangerous. 

‘They finally sent somebody round on Friday. The workman couldn’t get through the door at first because there were so many letters piled up behind it. 

‘She was lying there on the bathroom floor surrounded by water with her head next to the door. It was clear she was dead. When I saw that I walked away. It was horrific.’ 

Mr Frimpong said he hadn’t seen his neighbour since last summer. 

He said: ‘The council had told me that they couldn’t do anything about it unless she was there to open the door for them. I didn’t realise they had the powers to break in in an emergency. Why didn’t they do that months ago?

‘The police said they found no food in the house at all. I dread to think how she spent her final days. There is supposed to be a housing officer making regular visits. Why were there no welfare checks? 

‘It’s appalling. Me and my family have been traumatised by what’s happened. We want answers. 

‘My neighbour had been able to get around and seemed to be able to look after herself but she seemed quite isolated. 

‘She had lived there alone for a long time. I never saw anybody else visit the property but the police said they found another woman’s passport inside.’ 

Another woman neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: ‘It’s so sad. She was always very polite when you said hello and would hold the front door open for other tenants. 

‘I would see her out shopping in the local Sainsbury’s. She always looked smart when she went out and would wear her make up. 

‘She didn’t appear to have any friends or family visit her. Then suddenly she seemed to disappear. I hadn’t seen her for many months. 

‘Then I noticed that the window on her front door had been broken and thought that maybe she had lost her keys and had to break the window to get back in. 

‘When I found out what had happened I was horrified.’ 

Councillor Darren Merrill, cabinet member for council homes and homelessness, said: ‘I am incredibly saddened that a woman has been found dead in one of our council properties, and extend my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends. 

‘We are supporting the police in establishing the exact circumstances, and thoroughly checking all records the council holds in relation to this property and the tenant.

‘I know this is an extremely upsetting situation for people living in the block, and I want to reassure them that we will offer as much support as we can.’ 

Police said a report would be prepared for the coroner.