A SQUATTER was found watching television in a dead man’s flat — a month after his family launched a battle to gain access.
Tony Worthington had been trying to get into his brother John’s Bolton at Home flat in Blackshaw Lane, Deane, following his death on May 7.
He was barred access because John’s ex-wife was the registered next of kin.
But when Tony was finally was given the keys to his brother’s home on June 5 so he could collect his belongings, he was stunned to find a man sitting on his late brother’s sofa, watching TV.
A Bolton at Home spokesman said “further security measures” had been taken since the incident.
Tony said: “When we finally got the keys we were confronted by a man watching the TV in the living room.
“I told the housing officer and he just said ‘get in touch with the police’.
“I cannot believe the way we have been treated."
Tony, who has now collected most of his brother’s belongings, said he thought Bolton at Home knew he was next of kin, having seen his passport and marriage certificate, and early access would have prevented his grieving family experiencing more anguish.
John’s family believe the squatter, who has now left the property, had forced the door open.
But Tony says he was assured by Bolton at Home that the flat would be secure.
He added: “The squatter was just gobsmacked that we were there and seemed shocked.
“After all we have been through, we are confronted by that.
“We have just about come to terms with the fact our John has passed away. It is a total disgrace.”
John, a retired joiner, was a “proud and independent” man, according to Tony.
He separated from his ex-wife 18 years ago and also had to overcome the death of his son Christopher six years ago.
The 61-year-old also endured a triple heart bypass in September, 2013, which Tony said he never fully recovered from.
A Bolton at Home spokesman said: “We left the property secure by boarding up where we needed to gain initial access.
“It was not obvious how a squatter breached security, with no noticeable signs of a break-in.
“We advised Mr Worthington that the police investigate and we offered to change the locks and shutter the property.
“Mr Worthington told us he was comfortable with the level of security.
“Unfortunately he has since reported that the front door of the flat has been vandalised.
“We’ve responded by taking further security measures in agreement with Mr Worthington.”