Body went unnoticed for four days

JULIAN RAETHEL
Last updated 05:00 21/02/2013
Community Lane flat
JULIAN RAETHEL/ Fairfax NZ

FINAL DAYS: The block of state housing flats where Raymond Preston's body was found.

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The discovery of a body in an Auckland state house which may have been lying unnoticed for up to four days has shocked residents living only metres away.

Flies gathering at the door of Raymond Preston's Community Ln, Avondale, flat alerted neighbours to the situation last Thursday after last seeing him at the start of the week.

There have been five similar cases across the city this year where bodies have been unnoticed for days or even weeks.

Police were called to the scene early in the afternoon and are still trying to find the 59-year-old's next of kin. Preston's body may be buried or cremated after a few weeks if no friends or family are found.

Neighbour Tau Nati said he knew something was wrong after he had not seen Preston for two weeks.

''I hadn't seen him for a while, he used to always walk to the library.

''Another neighbour and I went to look through the window, which was ajar, but couldn't see anything.

''But I knew something wasn't right and when I went to knock on the door I could smell it.

''It was like rotting meat. The thought came into my head that he was dead but I didn't want to believe it.'' 

Nati called the police who entered the flat and found Preston lying on his bed. 

Preston was last seen alive last Monday morning walking around the housing complex.

He still had his belongings, including his vehicle, on the property on Tuesday.

The complex, owned by Housing New Zealand, is made up of about 40 single-roomed flats. The flats are mainly occupied by beneficiaries who share a communal laundry.

Acting Senior Sergeant Tim Lockwood, of Avondale, said initial signs indicated he had died of natural causes.

Lockwood said Preston's body was in the advanced stage of decomposition. 

''Decomposition doesn't take too long in the summer heat and he was in the advanced stages."

Housing New Zealand tenancy services manager Angela Pearce said the organisation had a good relationship with tenants in the complex.

''Managers are now mobile spending around 70 per cent of their time out of the office visiting tenants.

''As this particular unit was kept in good condition it wasn't necessary to visit this tenant on a weekly basis,'' Pearce said.

Neighbours said Preston kept to himself a lot and could be short-tempered at times.

Nati said he never showed any signs of sickness.

''I feel sorry for him. If he was sick, why didn't he tell anyone?'

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