Coroner ‘at a loss’ to explain deaths of mother and daughter found in flat

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A coroner is “at a loss” to explain the deaths of a mother and daughter who were not seen for six months before being found by gas inspectors carrying out a routine check, an inquest heard.

Zarin Adatia, 84, and her daughter Tasneem, 48, were discovered in their council flat in East Finchley, north London by engineers on November 24 last year.

An inquest at North London Coroner’s Court heard Tasneem suffered from diabetes and was a carer for her elderly mother, who was almost immobile and had “ailments” but did not suffer from any known medical conditions.

Neighbours became concerned for the welfare of the Kenyan-born pair in April that year, but it was initially assumed they had gone on holiday.

Meanwhile, Tasneem’s sister Farah Mehta and best friend had been sending her emails trying to get in touch.

The rent on the flat was being paid every month they were not seen.

Gas inspectors sent six letters, made three phone calls and knocked on the door three times between last September and the day they were found.

A red sticker warning people not to try to enter the property was on the door shortly before they were discovered.

PC Asad Iqbal of the Metropolitan Police said gas engineers had obtained a court warrant to force entry into the property and, on arrival, found the lifeless remains of the mother and daughter.

An empty packet of co-codamol and Tasneem’s mobile phone, which was on charge, were found on a table next to Tasneem and fans in the room were switched on.

No suicide note was found, nor were there any signs someone had tried to break in.

Officers could not initially establish whether carbon monoxide may have played a part in their deaths because of the smell of the bodies but it was later ruled out.

Assistant coroner Peter Straker told family members in court: “It is an incredibly difficult case to get any handle on, to get any understanding on.

“I am left purely with speculation and I am not entitled to speculate as to what may have happened.

“When I read of your mother and how they were found I was left thinking about carbon monoxide, gas safety but there was no evidence of that being a contributory factor.

“I had a glancing thought towards suicide but found nothing to suggest that was a reasonable explanation.

“It is very difficult to think of anything that is not speculation and even natural causes might be speculation.

“It is very difficult to construct a reasonable explanation for what happened. I am at a loss. I don’t know what to say.”

A post-mortem examination found their cause of death to be unascertained while no toxicology report could be carried out due to the passage of time.

The coroner recorded an open verdict.

Ms Mehta and two other family members who attended did not wish to comment after the hearing.

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