Retired shopkeeper died from hypothermia at South Normanton home

A RETIRED shopkeeper found dead at her South Normanton home had perished from hypothermia, an inquest was told on Tuesday.

The partly-dressed body of frail Alma Redman (84) was laying under a sofa when support workers entered her warden-controlled bungalow last 9th November.

Deputy North Derbyshire Coroner Nigel Anderson said people suffering hypothermia could become deluded into believing they were too hot and remove their clothing.

The Chesterfield inquest was told that Mrs Redman’s home was always warm when council staff made weekly visits to check if she was allright.

She had alarm buzzers within the property to call for help and a functioning gas fire and central heating system, although the heating may not have been set to come on automatically.

Warden Hazel Rawson said she was unable to get any response from the address on The Croft when she called to see Mrs Redman on the morning of 4th November.

But that was not unusual as Mrs Redman, a widow, was not an early riser. Mrs Rawson visited a neighbouring pensioner and intended to return to Mrs Redman’s home but was called out on an emergency.

Her colleague, Ann Riley, went to the address on 9th November and raised the alarm after getting no response.

Keys were in the door locks on the inside but community ranger Julian Handley found an unlocked window. They entered the bungalow and saw Mrs Redman on the floor.

“In all my 25 years in this job I have never come across anybody positioned like that. I don’t know if she crawled under the settee herself,” said Mrs Riley.

Police were called and Pc Laura Jackson noted that Mrs Redman’s nightdress was over her head and her underwear was partly pulled down. An ashtray and some bread was on the floor.

“It did seem bizarre how she got to where she was. The settee was wooden-framed and high off the floor and there was plenty of room to get out,” said the officer, adding that police found no suspicious circumstances.

The coroner recorded a narrative verdict, saying: “It appeared from the evidence that she had been in the process of changing into her night clothes.

“For reasons that remain unclear she was found under the settee in this condition. On the balance of probabilities it is likely that she collapsed and crawled under the settee, but over a period of time became cold and died from hypothermia.

“I find that as a result of her collapsing and becoming cold, she was unable to get to the heating and start it and subsequently she died from the resultant cold.”