Former Ordnance Survey worker Denis Walsby lived in nest made from rubbish in his own front room in Romsey

Recluse who lived like human hamster lay dead for eight months in his nest

Denis Walsby lay dead for eight months

The nest made from rubbish in Mr Walsby's home

First published in News
Last updated
Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

A RECLUSIVE pensioner lay dead among piles of rubbish in his Hampshire home for eight months before his body was found, an inquest heard.

Like a hamster, Denis Walsby had collected rubbish which he used to turn his own front room into a makeshift nest.

The 74-year-old died surrounded by everything he had been hoarding, including bags of rubbish and cardboard boxes, an inquest heard.

The alarm was only raised when a postman saw mail piled up inside the porch.

PC Lindsay Miell told the hearing that after breaking down the door she saw boxes and papers “piled from the door to the ceiling” in the house in Romsey. She also noticed an infestation of flies.

She said: “It was hugely cluttered to the point that I couldn’t step inside the doorway.

"The thing that immediately struck me was the smell.”

Daily Echo:

Above: The nest made from rubbish in Mr Walsby's home

PC Miell found Mr Walsby’s decomposed body at the foot of the stairs under a pile of papers in December last year.

But the inquest heard that due to the date on the piles of mail Mr Walsby could have died eight months earlier, in April last year.

In his final months Mr Walsby was living downstairs among the clutter at the end-ofterrace house in Ashford Way.

PC Miell told the inquest: “It also appeared in the last stages of his life that he had created a small nest for himself.

“It was where he had basically done everything.”

A post-mortem found that Mr Walsby had died from a head injury although it is uncertain how he sustained it.

Delivering a verdict of accidental death, Central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short said: “Because of the period of time which has elapsed it’s not possible to ascertain whether he had been drinking, for example, and then fallen, or if he had a fall because he tripped.”

He added: “He was clearly a very reclusive man who preferred his own company.”

Mr Walsby had not had contact with any family for years.

Daily Echo:

Above: Mr Walsby on his wedding day

His ex-wife Joyce, 69, who lives in Rownhams, was a witness at the inquest but the last contact she had with him was 30 years ago.

She said they had moved to the then new-build home in Ashford Way in 1970 when they were both working
for Ordnance Survey.

With no children, the couple divorced in 1982 after his wife claimed she was the victim of “mental cruelty”, the inquest
heard.

Her ex-husband retired in 1984 and she never spoke to him again.

It was only after Mr Walsby died that she met his cousin, Robert Lucas, who it appears is his last surviving relative.

Mr Walsby would holiday in Germany and would visit Robert at his home in Camberley, Surrey, on his way home.
He was last seen at a family funeral in 2001.

Mr Lucas said: “He had turned up in quite sloppy dress for a funeral and was drinking quite heavily at that time.”

The last time he spoke to Mr Walsby was in 2006.

He said: “I just phoned him to say, ‘How are you?’. He was quite short, quite curt on the phone.”

Little is known about the last ten years of Mr Walsby’s life.

A taxi driver with Hampshire firm Samtax, Richard Heather, remembers taking him on weekly shopping trips.

He said: “He never used to complain about his health.”

Mr Walsby’s neighbour, Karen Stewart, said she had knocked on his front door several times each year.

She said would only see him once every few months and could have been the last person to have spoken to him.
She said: “I felt so awful [when I heard that he’d died], I was in tears.”

Comments (24)

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8:08am Thu 10 Jul 14

excusemoi says...

What a tragic story. How could he have died in his 'nest' when he was found at bottom of stairs?
What a tragic story. How could he have died in his 'nest' when he was found at bottom of stairs? excusemoi
  • Score: 14

8:21am Thu 10 Jul 14

Linesman says...

excusemoi wrote:
What a tragic story. How could he have died in his 'nest' when he was found at bottom of stairs?
I agree, it is a tragic story, but where does it say that he died in his 'nest'?

'Nest' is only mentioned in the headline, but not in the report.
[quote][p][bold]excusemoi[/bold] wrote: What a tragic story. How could he have died in his 'nest' when he was found at bottom of stairs?[/p][/quote]I agree, it is a tragic story, but where does it say that he died in his 'nest'? 'Nest' is only mentioned in the headline, but not in the report. Linesman
  • Score: 10

9:49am Thu 10 Jul 14

Quite Frankly says...

Echo, you clearly know little about respect for a deceased human being.

To compare this individual to a hamster is disgraceful.
Echo, you clearly know little about respect for a deceased human being. To compare this individual to a hamster is disgraceful. Quite Frankly
  • Score: 81

10:04am Thu 10 Jul 14

Huey says...

My God. Imagine the stench. Urggggh.
My God. Imagine the stench. Urggggh. Huey
  • Score: -25

10:25am Thu 10 Jul 14

Huey says...

Linesman wrote:
excusemoi wrote: What a tragic story. How could he have died in his 'nest' when he was found at bottom of stairs?
I agree, it is a tragic story, but where does it say that he died in his 'nest'? 'Nest' is only mentioned in the headline, but not in the report.
I can see it mentioned at least twice:

"Like a hamster, Denis Walsby had collected rubbish which he used to turn his own front room into a makeshift nest."

PC Miell told the inquest: “It also appeared in the last stages of his life that he had created a small nest for himself.

Maybe his nest was at the bottom of the stairs where the body was.
[quote][p][bold]Linesman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]excusemoi[/bold] wrote: What a tragic story. How could he have died in his 'nest' when he was found at bottom of stairs?[/p][/quote]I agree, it is a tragic story, but where does it say that he died in his 'nest'? 'Nest' is only mentioned in the headline, but not in the report.[/p][/quote]I can see it mentioned at least twice: "Like a hamster, Denis Walsby had collected rubbish which he used to turn his own front room into a makeshift nest." PC Miell told the inquest: “It also appeared in the last stages of his life that he had created a small nest for himself. Maybe his nest was at the bottom of the stairs where the body was. Huey
  • Score: 4

10:28am Thu 10 Jul 14

ilovelamp says...

This poor man obviously had a mental disability and now the daily echo call him a hamster and 'found in a nest' disgraceful
This poor man obviously had a mental disability and now the daily echo call him a hamster and 'found in a nest' disgraceful ilovelamp
  • Score: 43

10:43am Thu 10 Jul 14

rudolph_hucker says...

He needed help from Stelios off The Hoarder Next Door. Love that program.
They would have put him on telly and everything.
Too late now.
Some poor schmuck is gonna have to clean all that up.
He needed help from Stelios off The Hoarder Next Door. Love that program. They would have put him on telly and everything. Too late now. Some poor schmuck is gonna have to clean all that up. rudolph_hucker
  • Score: -32

11:45am Thu 10 Jul 14

SwedeSaint says...

Quite Frankly wrote:
Echo, you clearly know little about respect for a deceased human being.

To compare this individual to a hamster is disgraceful.
I completely agree. I was about to post a very similar comment.
The headline and report itself is shameful!
[quote][p][bold]Quite Frankly[/bold] wrote: Echo, you clearly know little about respect for a deceased human being. To compare this individual to a hamster is disgraceful.[/p][/quote]I completely agree. I was about to post a very similar comment. The headline and report itself is shameful! SwedeSaint
  • Score: 27

12:27pm Thu 10 Jul 14

SwaythlingChap says...

Insensitive and dehumanising reporting. A final indignity to what seemed a very tragic life.
Insensitive and dehumanising reporting. A final indignity to what seemed a very tragic life. SwaythlingChap
  • Score: 38

12:37pm Thu 10 Jul 14

SwedeSaint says...

SwaythlingChap wrote:
Insensitive and dehumanising reporting. A final indignity to what seemed a very tragic life.
Agreed. I've just emailed the reporter in question and copied in the news editor to register my distaste for the tone and content of this 'Piece'
[quote][p][bold]SwaythlingChap[/bold] wrote: Insensitive and dehumanising reporting. A final indignity to what seemed a very tragic life.[/p][/quote]Agreed. I've just emailed the reporter in question and copied in the news editor to register my distaste for the tone and content of this 'Piece' SwedeSaint
  • Score: 30

1:50pm Thu 10 Jul 14

WoolstonSean says...

A very tragic circumstances indeed, so sad to think that some ones life would end that way.

With regards to the reporting and editing of this story by the Echo it is totally shameful but I'm afraid this how the Echo is these days with bad grammar, ridiculous headlines, lack of interest or information on the subject and child like reporting, are there any genuine journalists working for the Echo!
A very tragic circumstances indeed, so sad to think that some ones life would end that way. With regards to the reporting and editing of this story by the Echo it is totally shameful but I'm afraid this how the Echo is these days with bad grammar, ridiculous headlines, lack of interest or information on the subject and child like reporting, are there any genuine journalists working for the Echo! WoolstonSean
  • Score: 17

2:11pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Zexagon says...

At least the echo didn't mention a treadmill and waterbottle
At least the echo didn't mention a treadmill and waterbottle Zexagon
  • Score: 7

3:08pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Steady Eddie says...

Pretty disrespectful piece of Journalism in my opinion.
Additionally you got his house address wrong.
Pretty disrespectful piece of Journalism in my opinion. Additionally you got his house address wrong. Steady Eddie
  • Score: 0

3:10pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Rodger the Taxi Driver from Hythe says...

He body was actually found at the bottom of the stairs.
He body was actually found at the bottom of the stairs. Rodger the Taxi Driver from Hythe
  • Score: 2

3:25pm Thu 10 Jul 14

shirlski says...

What a really sad story. It makes it all the more poignant when you see a photo of the chap on his Wedding day in what one hopes were happy times. I hope that he was content in his own way in his latter years just pottering away. R.I.P Mr. Walsby.
What a really sad story. It makes it all the more poignant when you see a photo of the chap on his Wedding day in what one hopes were happy times. I hope that he was content in his own way in his latter years just pottering away. R.I.P Mr. Walsby. shirlski
  • Score: 12

3:30pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Zexagon says...

Rodger the Taxi Driver from Hythe wrote:
He body was actually found at the bottom of the stairs.
Yes ,it says in the article
[quote][p][bold]Rodger the Taxi Driver from Hythe[/bold] wrote: He body was actually found at the bottom of the stairs.[/p][/quote]Yes ,it says in the article Zexagon
  • Score: 1

5:34pm Thu 10 Jul 14

excusemoi says...

Zexagon wrote:
At least the echo didn't mention a treadmill and waterbottle
Or a ball.
[quote][p][bold]Zexagon[/bold] wrote: At least the echo didn't mention a treadmill and waterbottle[/p][/quote]Or a ball. excusemoi
  • Score: -5

7:13pm Thu 10 Jul 14

Donna F says...

Ed Stilliard, "Senior Reporter" - seriously? I join others to say, at best, this is an extremely disrespectful headline matched by a cruel and poorly written article. Respect costs nothing.
Ed Stilliard, "Senior Reporter" - seriously? I join others to say, at best, this is an extremely disrespectful headline matched by a cruel and poorly written article. Respect costs nothing. Donna F
  • Score: 8

8:42pm Thu 10 Jul 14

horseyhorsey says...

SwedeSaint wrote:
SwaythlingChap wrote:
Insensitive and dehumanising reporting. A final indignity to what seemed a very tragic life.
Agreed. I've just emailed the reporter in question and copied in the news editor to register my distaste for the tone and content of this 'Piece'
I had considered doing the same and sending emails but wonder whether these sort of reporters just think any sort of 'reaction' to their stories means they have successfully written an interesting piece.

I am extremely angry that the Echo could be so disgusting in their description of a human being, particularly the deceased.... Entirely the wrong way to sensationalise a sad story about an old man with mental health issues living and dying in a sorry way.
[quote][p][bold]SwedeSaint[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]SwaythlingChap[/bold] wrote: Insensitive and dehumanising reporting. A final indignity to what seemed a very tragic life.[/p][/quote]Agreed. I've just emailed the reporter in question and copied in the news editor to register my distaste for the tone and content of this 'Piece'[/p][/quote]I had considered doing the same and sending emails but wonder whether these sort of reporters just think any sort of 'reaction' to their stories means they have successfully written an interesting piece. I am extremely angry that the Echo could be so disgusting in their description of a human being, particularly the deceased.... Entirely the wrong way to sensationalise a sad story about an old man with mental health issues living and dying in a sorry way. horseyhorsey
  • Score: 10

1:43am Fri 11 Jul 14

mrs pepperpot says...

He went everywhere in his giant hamster ball. Coz that's how he rolled!
He went everywhere in his giant hamster ball. Coz that's how he rolled! mrs pepperpot
  • Score: -8

12:21pm Fri 11 Jul 14

mrsniceguy says...

''The thing that immediately struck me was the smell'' PC Lindsay Miell what a messed up judgemental person. poor bloke obviously had no one. what a bunch of **** up people!!!!! commenters, ol bill & whoever wrote this trash.
''The thing that immediately struck me was the smell'' PC Lindsay Miell what a messed up judgemental person. poor bloke obviously had no one. what a bunch of **** up people!!!!! commenters, ol bill & whoever wrote this trash. mrsniceguy
  • Score: -4

1:25pm Fri 11 Jul 14

mrs pepperpot says...

mrsniceguy wrote:
''The thing that immediately struck me was the smell'' PC Lindsay Miell what a messed up judgemental person. poor bloke obviously had no one. what a bunch of **** up people!!!!! commenters, ol bill & whoever wrote this trash.
Well he was laying there decomposing for up to 8 months, I'm sure it didn't smell like roses!
[quote][p][bold]mrsniceguy[/bold] wrote: ''The thing that immediately struck me was the smell'' PC Lindsay Miell what a messed up judgemental person. poor bloke obviously had no one. what a bunch of **** up people!!!!! commenters, ol bill & whoever wrote this trash.[/p][/quote]Well he was laying there decomposing for up to 8 months, I'm sure it didn't smell like roses! mrs pepperpot
  • Score: 3

9:22pm Wed 16 Jul 14

Sir Ad E Noid says...

Huey wrote:
My God. Imagine the stench. Urggggh.
What a weirdo!!
[quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: My God. Imagine the stench. Urggggh.[/p][/quote]What a weirdo!! Sir Ad E Noid
  • Score: -2

9:40pm Thu 17 Jul 14

mrsniceguy says...

mrs pepperpot wrote:
mrsniceguy wrote:
''The thing that immediately struck me was the smell'' PC Lindsay Miell what a messed up judgemental person. poor bloke obviously had no one. what a bunch of **** up people!!!!! commenters, ol bill & whoever wrote this trash.
Well he was laying there decomposing for up to 8 months, I'm sure it didn't smell like roses!
My point is that that statement is disrespectful. obviously!
[quote][p][bold]mrs pepperpot[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]mrsniceguy[/bold] wrote: ''The thing that immediately struck me was the smell'' PC Lindsay Miell what a messed up judgemental person. poor bloke obviously had no one. what a bunch of **** up people!!!!! commenters, ol bill & whoever wrote this trash.[/p][/quote]Well he was laying there decomposing for up to 8 months, I'm sure it didn't smell like roses![/p][/quote]My point is that that statement is disrespectful. obviously! mrsniceguy
  • Score: -2

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