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Briton lay dead for months

RESIDENTS reacted in horror after the body of an elderly British man was found in his home, seven months after he died.

David Peter Bromley, 70, was not found until a neighbour in the village of Saint-Sauveur-le-Vicomte in Manche, Normandy, called police about the mail accumulating in his postbox and his overgrown garden.

Mr Bromley, who retired to France in 2004, is thought to have died in January. Investigators had to use the dates on food in his fridge as well as bank statements and dates on unopened post to work out how long he had been lying there.

Saint-Savour has a number of British residents and one told Ouest France newspaper “it is tragic to die like that”.

Mayor Michel Quinet said the town kept a list of residents living in isolation and checked up on them in extreme weather, but Mr Bromley was not singled out as being at risk. He told the Normandy Advertiser: “Even though we do not feel directly responsible for the death of Mr Bromley, we are going to listen to people more and offer more information services.”

Mr Quinet added that Mr Bromley did not speak to anybody, and had barricaded the entrance to his house with breeze blocks, seemingly to deter callers. He said if some English people were isolated it was likely to be because of the language barrier: “English people here fall into two categories: those who are surprised when the French don’t speak English and those who integrate well.”

Chris Payne of SOS Help, the English-language support group in France, said that loneliness was a major problem in the expat community and that it played a major part in the vast majority of their calls. She added: “Indeed, anyone who was lonely and lived alone could be in danger of this happening.”

Although his car was still parked on his drive it took a long time for anybody to notice Mr Bromley was missing because he had limited contact with other people in the village and would often go back to the UK for months at a time, leaving his property empty.

The Cherbourg prosecutor, Eric Bouillard, said: “Mr Bromley is thought to have died in his sleep in a very cold spell in January. He was found wrapped in an electric blanket and is likely to have died from natural causes.”

Although Mr Bromley was originally not thought to have any family, the British Consulate is now trying to trace his brother but could not say where in the UK he was from.

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