Woman's mummified body left in Edinburgh bed for eight months

A 75-year-old woman's mummified body lay in a bed at her Edinburgh home for eight months before being found after her nephew 'took her home to die'.
John Macleod, 55,
hid his dead aunt in his flat for eight months to claim benefits. Picture: Andy ShipleyJohn Macleod, 55,
hid his dead aunt in his flat for eight months to claim benefits. Picture: Andy Shipley
John Macleod, 55, hid his dead aunt in his flat for eight months to claim benefits. Picture: Andy Shipley

John MacLeod, 55, pled guilty at Edinburgh Sheriff Court to concealing the body of his aunt Mina MacLeod in a house on Madeira Street.

He had been the sole carer of his elderly aunt for almost 30 years at his home in Kirkintilloch.

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But he took her back to her home in the Capital to allow her to die in her own bed and when she passed away, he put bed clothes over her body and left.

Almost eight months later, her mummified body was found by a neighbour, who had been given a key to the flat for maintenance purposes and alerted the police.

MacLeod pled guilty to abandoning the body between December 16, 2015, and August 10, 2016.

He admitted to failing to inform the authorities of her death so they were unable to ascertain the cause of death, as well as pretending to his mother, Sarah MacLeod, and police officers that his aunt was still alive in the Madeira Street house.

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MacLeod was found to have failed to inform the Department of Work and Pensions of his aunt’s death and receiving income support, carers’ allowance and the disability living allowance care and mobility component on her behalf.

The court yesterday heard mental health, psychiatric and physical health reports on MacLeod.

Fiscal depute Aidan Higgins told Sheriff Robert Weir QC that MacLeod lived with his aunt at her home on Madeira Street from 1988 to 2010 and then moved to his house in Muirside Avenue, Kirkintilloch, leaving the flat in Edinburgh unoccupied.

Mr Higgins said MacLeod noticed in 2015 his aunt was unwell, but it did not seem serious and that medical attention was not necessary.

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However, when her breathing became shallow, Mr Higgins said: “He decided she would like to die in her own bedroom”. MacLeod carried his aunt in her dressing gown and pyjamas, put her in the rear seat of his car, drove to Edinburgh and put her to bed. “He sat next to her until she passed off, pulled bedclothes over her body and left,” Mr Higgins said. The body was found by a 53-year old neighbour, who had been given a key by MacLeod to allow him to carry out maintenance work.

Mr Higgins said the man “was alarmed and surprised when he saw what looked like a body under the covers on a bed”.

MacLeod told members of his family he was going to take his own life and had been taken to Glasgow Royal Infirmary after an overdose of paracetamol.

Defence solicitor Jonathan Campbell told Sheriff Weir his client had a number of serious health difficulties.

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MacLeod received £6,596 in benefits for the care of his aunt after her death. Mr Campbell said he had £25,000 to pay for a roof repair at the Madeira Street property and the debt had spiralled to £60,000.

“He is of previous good character,” Mr Campbell said.

Sheriff Weir described the case as “a very unusual, very sad tale”. He will rule on the case today.