The 82-year-old died following fall but concerns raised over her ‘emaciated’ state

A widow described as being 'too proud' to ask for help died after hitting her head in a fall and was so emaciated she looked like the victim of a concentration camp, an inquest heard.

Retired secretary Patricia Mary Wiggett, 82, of Northam, was found unconscious and not breathing in bed by her son Trevor Wiggett, on November 10 last year.

Despite carrying out CPR, Mr Wiggett, who had lived in the family home with his mother for 16 years, was unable to save her.

She was pronounced dead by paramedics shortly after their arrival at the home at 8.40pm.

Police were called to the scene and detective constable Adrian Wroe told the inquest in Barnstaple: "I was struck by how thin Mrs Wiggett was; it reminded me of someone filmed after World War Two having been in a concentration camp."

Mr Wiggett, who works full time, said he had tried to cook for his mother but she often refused to eat, and he suspected she fed what food he made to the family dog.

He said his mother was a 'very proud' lady who had refused help, and added: "Had I realised how poorly mum was, I would have got her some help prior to her death."

After her death, Mrs Wiggett was found to have bruises on her elbows which her son said were caused by her falling over - thought to be in part due to her drinking several bottles of sherry throughout the week.

Mr Wiggett told the inquest yesterday (Tuesday): "She would sometimes fall over.

"I was working away from home once when she fell over outside of the house.

"She also fell over in the local shop in Northam; when I spoke to her I thought she had been drinking."

DC Wroe took a statement from Mr Wiggett, who said since the death of his father, Arthur, seven years ago, his mum's health had started to decline.

He said she used to be a 'large lady' and added: "I was aware she was losing weight but as I only ever saw her dressed I didn't appreciate how much she had lost."

The conditions of the house were described as 'squalid' by DC Wroe - Mrs Wiggett was found on urine-soaked sheets and the shower had broken four months previously.

Investigations by police confirmed Mrs Wiggett was not known to social services.

The inquest heard she had been bed-bound for the three weeks before she died and home alone while Mr Wiggett had been at work during the daytime.

A post mortem examination on her body found the cause of death to be a subdural haematoma, contributed to by malnutrition.

Coroner Dr Elizabeth Earland said she was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt Mrs Wiggett had suffered a number of falls prior to her death and was very malnourished.

She concluded a verdict of accidental death, contributed to, but not caused by, neglect.

If you are concerned about a vulnerable relative, you can contact Care Direct on 0345 155 1007.

Care Direct is open to take calls between 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and from 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

Click here to return to our homepage for more North Devon news.