An elderly shopaholic’s body was found ‘buried’ under a pile of clothes and other items more than a week after she went missing, an inquest has heard.
Joan Cunnane’s home, near Manchester in the UK, was so crammed with purchases it took five visits to the house to find her, a court was told.
Friend Roy Moran said he last saw the 77-year-old when they had lunch together on Christmas Day, 2008.
Moran said he visited four days later and found a door ajar and the premises stacked from floor to ceiling with bric-a-brac.
He went to Cunnane’s house three times without seeing her, before police were eventually alerted on January 6.
Detective Inspector Kevin Dolan said the first search of her home was unsuccessful because of “the large amount of personal property and papers within”.
Police returned the following day to clear out the house and conduct a second search, and that was when Cunnane’s body was found in a bedroom “under a substantial pile of clothing and other items”, he said.
‘Death by natural causes’
Pathologist Philip Lumb said Cunnane died from bronchial pneumonia, and also had cancer. Coroner John Pollard recorded a verdict of death by natural causes.
“I suspect she has probably collapsed and various items have fallen on her,” he said.
“There’s no evidence to suggest those items contributed to her death.”
Speaking outside the court, Moran said his friend’s house was “crammed to capacity with purchases”.
The extent of her compulsive shopping only became known after her death because she did not let visitors in the house.
Moran believed Cunnane’s obsessive shopping began about 16 years ago.
He said she would leave home early and return late because she was afraid of youths who had been loitering in the area, throwing stones and breaking garden furniture.
“It was unbelievable, things were stacked up to the ceiling and there were rows of things neatly stacked,” he said.