Blind OAP died outside home

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

A retired opera singer was found dead outside her remote farmhouse home by her husband, an inquest heard.

Betty Tracey, 91, who was blind, was covered with a sack and plastic sheeting after apparently having wandered outside.

On Tuesday, an inquest in Bury St Edmunds was told that New Zealand-born Mrs Tracey’s husband Peter, 89, told police that the previous evening he had opened the back door of the couple’s home to find an old Italian friend standing there.

Mr Tracey told detectives that, despite it raining, his friend declined an offer to come indoors.

In an attempt to help him keep dry, Mr Tracey had given his friend a sack to cover himself with.

He said that the following morning, he went outside and discovered his wife’s dead body under the sack.

Detectives said that when they spoke to Mr Tracey, he appeared to be confused and described his behaviour as “bizarre”.

Later, following a medical assessment, it was decided that Mr Tracey was unfit to be spoken to.

A post-mortem examination concluded that Mrs Tracey died as a result of a head injury and hypothermia, probably as a result of a fall.

The inquest heard that police who initially treated Mrs Tracey’s death as “unexplained” later concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.

In a statement, GP Dr John Flather, who was called to the house in Leavenheath on the morning of November 26, said Mr Tracey was acting “very strangely” despite normally being “very sharp”.

Mrs Tracey had suffered from a number of medical problems, including diabetes, cancer, dementia and blindness following a fall, said Dr Flather.

Dr Flather said that Mrs Tracey’s body was wet and appeared to have been outside for some time. Dr Flather said Mr Tracey appeared to be suffering from severe shock as tests later failed to identify anything else wrong.

Assistant Suffolk coroner Yvonne Blake said it appeared that Mrs Tracey may have wandered out of the house while her husband was driving their daughter back to her car at the end of a track leading to their house, where they had lived since 1960.

Ms Blake recorded a conclusion that Mrs Tracey, who was described during the inquest as having become increasingly frail, had probably been trying to find her husband when she suffered a fall.