A MAN was found dead at his home was facing eviction, it has been revealed.

Richard Cox, 49, of Kenilworth Place, Noak Bridge, had been in court in relation to being evicted from his Basildon Council flat just five days before being found dead there.

Mr Cox, who lived alone with a large labrador, had a history of depression, Chelmsford Coroners Court heard.

Coroners officer Narder Beeson said at the opening of his inquest: “He had recently been to court in relation to being evicted. On August 31 he was found hanging after concerns were raised for his welfare.”

The provisional cause of death was given as hanging.

Neighbours who have lived in the small block of flats for years spoke of their shock to the Echo and revealed prior to the tragedy Mr Cox had also had to give up his job as a builder, after injuring his eye in an accident at work.

Margaret Fricker, 87, who lived opposite him, said: “It is very sad because he had been in and out of work, but seemed to sort himself out.

“He had a job as a builder that he loved and seemed quite happy, but he had an accident carrying something and hurt himself down one side and injured his eye. He could not work after this. He got quite depressed and said he had so many bills he could not pay them. He once told me he might try to kill himself.”

Neighbours said he was not seen for a few days and police were unable to get in, so had to climb in through a window, before Mr Cox was found.

Linda Stoten has lived in the block 30 years.

She said: “If you have no money and can’t eat and pay the bills what can you do?

“He always looked very thin, but he always wanted to work and I don’t think he was ever on benefits. I had not seen him for a while and left him some dog food on the step and some cans of drink, but never saw him again.”


Eviction: Mr Cox's flat

County court records show Mr Cox had a county court judgement of £450 against him, dating back to 2010, which remains unpaid.

The inquest was adjourned until next month while the court awaits results of toxicology tests, police reports and information from his family.

Basildon Council said in a statement Richard Cox was given a payment plan for £900 rent arrears he owed – and would have known he did not face “imminent eviction” after the court hearing on August 26.

The council said the latest hearing happened because he defaulted on a previous stay of execution he was given at court in 2013.

A spokesman said on the August date he agreed to adjourn proceedings for six weeks, providing Mr Cox paid £5 a week, and pending the outcome of a renewed application he made for housing benefits.

Mr Cox got into arrears due to previous breaks in his housing benefit claims when he worked or was self-employed.

The spokesman added: “If he followed the payment plan and advice given, a further stay hearing would have been awarded by the judge.”

The council said a rents officer met Mr Cox before the warrant for eviction was requested and he was contacted in April and twice in June and referred to housing benefits, citizens advice and the housing advice department.

The spokesman said: “There was no indication of any self-harming or risk of suicide from our notes of previous meetings with Mr Cox. There is nothing held on file, in both revenues and benefits and the housing system, to indicate any cause for concern. The customer gave full permission for his sister to deal with affairs, so as far as we were aware he had family around him.

“The council will await the outcome of the inquest and help the coroner if necessary.”