Bolton’s biggest housing provider has apologised for the “completely unacceptable” way that a tenant’s body was discovered six years after his death.

Robert Alton was found dead in Bolton on March 9 this year when Bolton at Home were able to gain access to his Hemsworth Road home.

A subsequent inquest ruled that his death was not suspicious but that he had likely died in May 2017, when he was believed to have been around the age of 70, and had not been discovered for six years.

Bolton at Home group CEO Noel Sharpe said: “Everyone at Bolton at Home has been deeply shocked by this and we realise it will concern and upset people to learn his body remained undiscovered for such a long time.

“It is completely unacceptable to us that something like this has happened, and we’ve taken action to reduce the risk of it happening again.

The Bolton News: An inquest was held at Bolton Coroners CourtAn inquest was held at Bolton Coroners Court (Image: Newsquest)

“We’ve changed our procedure so that we start straightaway the process of seeking access via a warrant in instances where we cannot contact a tenant to arrange a gas safety check.

“We’re also taking steps to enable our tenancy support team to work more closely with our gas safety team in instances where we are struggling to gain access to a property and where there may be welfare concerns.”

A police appeal went out last March after Mr Alton was found dead at the Hemsworth Road house to try and trace his next of kin.

At the time, he was believed to have been 76 years old before subsequent investigations discovered that he had in fact died around six years previously.

Ms Sharpe has now accepted that Bolton at Home, which manages more than 18,000 households across the borough, should have acted sooner.

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She said: “While we followed the correct legal process throughout, it’s clear that the action taken by us didn’t go far enough.

"In hindsight, we should have spotted sooner that something was potentially wrong and done more to check on Robert’s welfare.

“We offer our heartfelt condolences to Robert’s loved ones, friends and neighbours and apologise to them for the opportunities we missed in finding out why we couldn’t contact Robert.”

Following the inquest this week, coroner Peter Sigee recorded an open conclusion into the cause of Mr Alton’s death.