A reclusive pensioner may have lain dead among piles of rubbish in his Romsey home for eight months before his body was found, an inquest heard.

Like a hamster, Denis Walsby, 74, had collected rubbish which he used to turn the front room of his end-of-terrace house in Ashford Way into a makeshift nest.

PC Lindsay Miell told the hearing that after breaking down the door she saw boxes and papers “piled from the door to the ceiling” in Mr Walsby’s house and an infestation of flies.

She said: “It was hugely cluttered to the point that I couldn’t step inside the doorway. The thing that immediately struck me was the smell.”

PC Miell found Mr Walsby’s decomposed body at the foot of the stairs under a pile of papers in December last year. But the inquest heard that going by the postmarks on the mail Mr Walsby could have died eight months earlier.

PC Miell told the inquest: “It also appeared in the last stages of his life that he had created a small nest for himself.”

A post-mortem found that Mr Walsby had died from a head injury.

Delivering a verdict of accidental death, Central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short said: “Because of the period of time which has elapsed it’s not possible to ascertain whether he had been drinking, for example, and then fallen, or if he had a fall because he tripped.”

“He was clearly a very reclusive man who preferred his own company.”

The dead man’s ex-wife Joyce, 69, of Rownhams, a witness at the inquest said she had not had contact with him for 30 years.

The couple had moved to Ashford Way in 1970 when they were both working for Ordnance Survey.

The couple, who had no children, divorced in 1982 after his wife claimed she was the victim of “mental cruelty”, the inquest heard.

Her ex-husband retired in 1984 and they never spoke again. It was only after Mr Walsby died that she met his cousin, Robert Lucas, believed to be his last surviving relative.

Mr Walsby visited Robert at his home in Camberley.

He was last seen at a family funeral in 2001.

Mr Lucas said: “He had turned up in quite sloppy dress for a funeral and was drinking quite heavily at that time.”

He said he had last spoken to Mr Walsby in 2006. “I just phoned him to say, ‘How are you?’. He was quite curt on the phone.”

Little is known about the last decade of Mr Walsby’s life.

A taxi driver with Samtax, Richard Heather, recalls taking him on weekly shopping trips. He said: “He never used to complain about his health.”

Neighbour, Karen Stewart, said she had knocked on his front door several times each year. She said she would only see him once every few months and could have been the last person to have spoken to him.

She said: “I felt so awful [when I heard that he’d died], I was in tears.”