An eccentric pensioner was found dead in his home in Dawlish, Devon, ’swaddled’ in bed linen and numerous home-made dresses with his face covered in a number of stockings with eye holes, an inquest heard. Retired shop worker Nigel Hobbs, 71, also had his face wrapped in polythene and his mouth taped over. Cotton wool was stuffed in his ears and possibly his mouth, the hearing in Torquay was told. South Devon coroner Ian Arrow, recording that the unsuspicious death by asphyxiation was accidental, said there was no evidence that Mr Hobbs was trying to hurt himself.
The inquest heard that two women neighbours found a lifeless and bizarrely wrapped up Mr Hobbs in the back bedroom of his Stonelands Terrace on April 15. They had wanted to invite him around for a cup of tea, as they had done on previous occasions.
They popped into his home after failing to make contact with him.
One of them, Heather Ellor, revealed in a statement that she’d heard a loud bang in Mr Hobbs’ next door property at 10pm two days before the curious discovery.
She assumed the noise was made by her neighbour during a session of yoga which he enjoyed.
Alan Mould, a neighbour for more than 20 years, said in his statement that Mr Hobbs was ’a little eccentric.’
He revealed that Mr Hobbs had lived with his mother until her death at the turn of the century.
He had last seen Mr Hobbs in the late afternoon of April 14, the day after Heather Ellor heard the suspected yoga noise.
Mr Mould revealed that Mr Hobbs had osteoporosis and liked to move around a lot, otherwise he feared he would ’seize up.’
He described his neighbour as a happy-go-lucky character who was ’very friendly’ and often with a smile on his face.
’He was a very pleasant man,’ he observed, adding that he was always willing to help his neighbours.
Det Sgt Andy Turner, of Newton Abbot CID, said Mr Hobbs had been wrapped in bedding material and numerous layers of home-made dresses.
His face was covered in a number of stockings with eye-holes. Underneath these was polythene together with tape over his mouth.
He added that cotton wool was found in his ears and, it was suspected, in his mouth as well.
DS Turner said Mr Hobbs still had room to breathe through his nose.
He said there was no evidence of any third party involvement in his death. It appeared to be accidental, a finding endorsed by the coroner.