For years, Laura Winham was found dead in her apartment because no one was paying attention to her.
The case occupied the whole of England: Laura Winham († 38) suffered from schizophrenia and needed protection. But for authorities in Woking, Great Britain, the woman seems completely out of place. She lay dead in a council flat for almost four years until it was finally noticed that she was dead.
His desperate family is now demanding answers. “Nobody looked after her,” the family’s lawyer said Friday. From next week, an inquest is to clarify why social workers simply forgot about the mentally ill woman.
Thanks to her concerned brother and mother, she was found. They asked police to open Winham’s apartment in May 2021.
Laura Winham feared for her family
Officers witnessed a gruesome scene. Her body already resembled a skeleton. An analysis of her teeth showed she must have died in November 2017. The exact cause of death is still unclear.
Family members have had to stay away from their beloved Laura because of her illness and believe her relatives want to harm her.
“We always hoped that with professional help he would get better and that one day we would be in touch again,” said his sister Nikki Derr. “Daily Mail”. “We never thought she would be lying dead on the ground for so long without anyone knowing.”
Lost contact with family
Laura Winham was born with Goldenhar syndrome, which causes curvature of the spine. He underwent heart surgery at age 18 and has suffered from mental health issues since his teenage years, requiring two psychiatric admissions.
She found it difficult to maintain a good relationship with her family. “The contact with us seemed to weigh heavily on her. She refused to see us and unfortunately in the end we had to respect her wishes and leave her to the professionals,” Nicky Winham said.
In 2014, he was referred for psychiatric treatment after his property manager’s staff found him “unwell, very thin, had no friends and believed he was being watched”.
Two years later, his Disability Living Allowance was stopped after he failed to respond to letters from the Department for Work and Pensions. So it was clear that she was not well. In October 2017, Surrey Police officers reported to social services that she had been neglected and had little to eat.
Did the authorities fail?
Social workers later tried to contact Winham by phone — without success. They sent the 38-year-old a few letters. No one bothered to stop at Winham’s apartment. After two weeks of no response, Winham’s case was closed on the computer without further contact in what appeared to be a fatal error.
She is believed to have died a few weeks later. At this point, the entries on her calendar stopped — shortly after she wrote “I need help.”
“There were many warning signs”
Repeated calls, texts and visits to the home between November 2018 and January 2021 got no response from her housing association – and did nothing. Her rent continued to be paid by Housing Benefit. In January 2019, gas supply to his house was stopped.
“There were so many red flags from social services and mental health teams to landlords but everyone turned a blind eye,” said the deceased’s sister.
Surrey County Council said: “This is a truly tragic case and we offer our heartfelt condolences to Laura’s family and friends. It is important that every aspect of this complex case is investigated and we are committed to our full participation in the investigation.” (not)
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