The mystery over the deaths of an elderly mother and her blind son who were found dead in their “spartan” home may never be solved, an inquest heard.
June Corfield, 84, and and son Stephen, 60, were found half-dressed and surrounded by clocks and radios at their flat in January.
The pair were discovered by a PCSO and housing authority boss who entered their home in Bracknell, Berkshire.
At the time, police believed they could have been investigating a murder-suicide, but any foul play was later ruled out.
But at an inquest heard at Reading Coroner’s Court on Thursday, it was ruled that the truth of what happened may never be known, but June may have died first and Stephen was unable to fend for himself.
Describing what was found at the two-bedroom flat on January 15, Detective Sergeant Liam Butler told the inquest that there was a handwritten note which read ‘Put memo at the top of the stairs do not come in’.
He added that every electrical item inside the flat was either switched off or disconnected. One bedroom contained an unplugged fridge and three TV’s, while the other had a double bed but no cupboards.
The court heard how although there was a boiler, it did not appear to be operating, so it was believed there was no heating in the house.
The inquest was also told that a newspaper dated December 2, 2019, was found in the bin, but there were no toilet rolls or cleaning products in the bathroom.
In the sparse kitchen, officers only found 10 cartons of long life milk and around ten chocolate cakes in what was described as a ‘very spartan’ scene.
Det. Sgt. Butler added: “All the electrical items were unplugged and the main electrical fuse box was turned to the off position. The light fittings did not have light bulbs in.
“There was not anything in the address that we would all recognise as items we would all use in our day-to-day living, such as working TV, internet connection, phones. It seemed very sparse.
“As you entered the lounge where you had the two sofas, officers found a female sat in one of the chairs, slouched backwards. To her right they saw a male, again slouched back in the chair with his head tilted forward but to his left hand side. Both plainly had been dead for some time.”
The inquest also heard that June was said to have been found wearing a top and one sock, and Stephen wearing a shirt, shoes, and socks.
Stephen, who was visually impaired, was also found to have £1,000 in cash in his trousers.
There were also two Bush DAB radios in between the two chairs, as well as a handbag next to June which contained a handwritten note, which had some words crossed out but did have a message which read ‘do not come in’ at the top of the stairs, as well as the words ‘digital radio bush’ and ‘China dab’.
The coroner’s court also heard from Charlotte Rolfe, of Silva Homes, which managed the block of flats.
She carried out a welfare check on the pair with a PCSO after workmen complained that they were unable to access the flat.
She said: “In the living room, I immediately saw the body of a male and female sat on the sofa in the living room.
“Both appeared very gaunt, their eyes were sunken and they were clearly deceased. We were inside for no longer than about 30 seconds.”
Dr Robert Chapman, who carried out post mortem, gave the cause of death for Mrs Corfield as pneumonia and coronary heart disease.
A small tumour was discovered in Stephen Corfield’s brain but his cause of death remained unascertained.
Alan Blake, assistant coroner for Berkshire, said June and Stephen were hardly known to their neighbours, and that they had had no contact with their family for years.
He added that when they were discovered, the mother and son had been dead “for an appreciable period of time”.
Mr Blake said for an appreciable period of time there was no evidence of third-party involvement and very scant evidence which could point to suicide.
Concluding, Mr Blake said he accepted the cause of death suggesting she had died of natural causes.
On the death on Stephen, he said: “There is insufficient evidence to determine on the balance of probabilities whether this was an entirely natural death or whether there was an element of the unnatural about this death.
“It cannot be established whether neglect or self-neglect caused or contributed to the death and accordingly I am required to reach an open conclusion in relation to Stephen Corfield.”