THE bodies of a reclusive mother and daughter were found mummified in their dilapidated Oxford home after lying dead for months.
When police forced their way into Pauline and Caroline Jessett’s Littlemore home last year they found seven-month-old unopened letters and plants had grown through holes in the walls, an inquest heard yesterday.
Caroline’s body was found lying next to a bed and a desk fan was still running.
But it was only until after the building had been made safe a week later, that officers found the body of her mother, 78, in the bath at the Cowley Road semi-detached house.
The unemployed 50-year-old – who had suffered mental health problems – had been the sole carer for her mother who was left disabled after a horse-riding accident, Oxfordshire Coroner’s Court heard yesterday.
The inquest heard that following her mother’s death she placed her in a bathtub lined with foil and covered her with blankets and a plank of wood, police officers told the inquest.
The mother also had sanitary towels taped to sores on her heels and a cloth on a wound on her side.
Forensic pathologist Alexander Kolar said the bodies were so badly decomposed it was impossible to conclude how they died, but said they would have been dead for months.
He said tests on the daughter showed she may have suffered a brain tumour, adding: “This is a very significant finding and could account in itself for the death.”
No one from the Jessett family attended the inquest which heard from the family’s GP Marion Anscombe.
She said Caroline had last visited her at the surgery in 1996 complaining of depression. She said she visited the house in March 2012 but the family refused to accept any help from social services.
In a statement she said: “I was concerned the house was quite neglected, the rooms were dark and the daughter had a substantial caring role.”
Pauline had to be identified by a serial number on a replacement hip she received in a 2001 operation. Her daughter could only be identified through DNA tests.
Pc Ian Winter said when he got inside the house he found furniture covered in dust. In the bedroom where he found Caroline’s body he saw boxes of watches and pens lined up neatly on a dresser.
Neighbour Raymond Bailey
Acting Det Sgt Mark Stadler told the inquest there was no food and very few personal belongings in the house. Records showed the last time the landline telephone was used was in February 2012.
He said Pauline’s sister had not been allowed in the house when she tried to visit in 2007.
Coroner Darren Salter recorded a verdict of natural causes in the case of Caroline Jessett and an open verdict for her mother but said natural causes were likely.
Their neighbour Raymond Bailey, 83, last night said the Jessetts did not want to know anyone, adding: “It is very sad. They lived an awful life.”
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