THE body of a beggar who had been dead for weeks was found on a sofa in his home.

Police discovered Andrew Price at his home on November 1 last year, it was revealed at the opening of an inquest into his death at Woodvale Crematorium in Brighton.

He lived in council accommodation and was discovered by emergency services after a cleaner who was working in a communal area outside his home in Denton Drive, Brighton, raised a “cause for concern”.

Coroner’s officer Michael Bebee said his “slightly decomposed body” was found on the sofa by emergency services.

A post-mortem was carried out but a provisional cause of death was not ascertained.

Mr Bebee also told Brighton and Hove coroner Veronica Hamilton-Deeley that Mr Price had been prescribed drugs for schizophrenia and said there was “some drugs paraphernalia” around him when he was found, with police also believing they had spotted rat droppings.

He said: “There was clear evidence that drugs had been used on the premises, whether they were his or another person’s.

“The council has previously had to clear out his flat because of the state it was in.

“There have been suggestions the house has been used by other people as well, not necessarily cuckooing.

“He may have been generous and taken advantage of.”

Cuckooing is a crime in which drug dealers take over the home of a vulnerable person to use it as a base.

It was revealed that police had found it difficult to enter the building because of items built up behind the front door and so needed to force their way in.

Mr Bebee said it was obvious that Mr Price had been dead “for some time” when he was found.

He said: “I didn’t get the impression people did continue to use the premises (after he died).”

Mr Bebee said it looked as though Mr Price had fallen forward while sitting on the sofa and that, in the position he was found, “he could have asphyxiated”.

He said Mr Price’s most recent note from a GP came from 2003 and this said he had a history of misuse of drugs. Ms Hamilton-Deeley said she planned to carry out a full inquest into his death on March 24 to address a number of questions hanging over the incident.

She said; “He has been dead for ages so how come it took so long for anyone to realise?

“How is it that a tenant of a council property can lie dead for weeks without anyone noticing?”

She later added: “We have too many people who just lie dead in places which are supposed to be supported housing.

“They are low or no support but these people are very vulnerable.”

Ms Hamilton-Deeley also said Mr Price was believed to have been begging in Brighton and queried why “no one realised he was not on his usual pitch?”.

Mr Bebee said he had been seen near Carden Avenue in Brighton as well as London Road.

He said: “I think he busked or begged but they come and go so frequently through ill health, being moved on or being hospitalised.

“I think in Brighton in particular people are quite detuned to people not being there any more because it’s such a regular occurrence.”