The home of a RAF veteran has been mistakenly gutted after his death destroying a life time of military memories, heirlooms and artefacts.
Just five days after David Board died, his home in West Norwood, South London was given an ‘environmental’ clean by the council after they wrongly believed he had no next of kin.
Mr Board’s family were notified of his death but were unable to get to the house David had lived in for 70 years before the cleaning team descended.
All David’s family received from his treasured belongings were a plastic bag containing an empty wallet, £120 in cash, an Oyster card, an expired bank card, a keyring and his watch.
David’s niece, Caroline Mountain said her uncle’s death certificate hadn’t been finalised before the cleaning team swept through the property.
The only thing left inside the house was a potted plant.
Mrs Mountain, whose naval veteran father, John also lived at the house as a boy said:
“When I saw the inside all bare and empty, my blood ran cold.
“They threw away extremely precious family memories and never even thought to put them into storage.”
She added: “My uncle served in the RAF, came from a family of veterans, and was so proud of his country.
David Board’s surviving family have spoken out, saying they are: “Devastated and absolutely disgusted.”
The veteran’s death is understood to be from complications caused by a heart problem. On the day the Metropolitan Police discovered David at his home, officers alerted colleagues in Lancashire about a possible next of kin after finding a Christmas card from his sister-in-law, Margaret, Caroline’s mother.
Margaret, 86, who lives in Preston, then informed police of his next of kin that evening and the family began to make arrangements to begin clearing Mr Board’s home.
However, it soon transpired that council staff had cleaned the entire fact just five days after he died.
Caroline Mountain added: “The council have accepted liability and said they were wrong to clean it out so soon and have told me I can get compensation, but that isn’t the point.
“There is no compensation for irreplaceable family pictures that we will simply never see again.
‘The council made no checks, followed no legal protocol and shouldn’t terminate a tenancy until a death certificate is shown.
“A tenancy doesn’t end when someone dies if there is no next of kin. This is my frustration. Getting any answers from Lambeth Council has been an absolute nightmare.”
Lambeth council’s interim Chief Executive offered their condolences to the bereaved family.
“We mistakenly believed that there were no next of kin, and apologise to relatives that further checks were not made.
“We have offered to meet the family and apologise in person and we will work with the family to ensure, as best as we can, that the situation is resolved to their satisfaction.
“We are now reviewing our procedures to ensure further checks to locate next of kin are carried out in future.”