A TALENTED pianist and world-renowned genealogist lay dead for an undetermined amount of time in his first floor Sedbergh flat after he overdosed on morphine, an inquest heard.

A hearing into the death of 61-year-old Terence Lee, a Royal College of Music graduate, was told he was only discovered when a police officer forced open the door of his Fell Close flat after concerns for his welfare.

A statement read out on behalf of a pathologist by Ian Smith, coroner for South and East Cumbria, said there was evidence Mr Lee had taken paracetamol, aspirin and morphine but added poor quality blood samples caused by decomposition hampered proper examination.

A report from Dr William Lumb, of Sedbergh Medical Practice, said: "Mr Lee was known to suffer from inflammatory bowel disease and was suffering from gastroenteritis.

"More relevant was his significant but undiagnosed learning difficulties. He remained in a state of complaint with the practice and he was unable to form any form of relationship.

"He valued his privacy to an extreme and his view on the world wasn't that of the general population."

Mr Lee was found on May 15 this year by PC Steven Hemsley. He told the hearing he had had previous dealings with Mr Lee after he had made complaints about neighbours.

"I hadn't had a complaint for some time so I emailed him because I knew if I visited he wouldn't let me in," he said. "I asked if everything was alright and if he was having any more problems. I knew he never opened it because I put a read receipt on it so I went around to make sure he was ok.

"I enforced entry and found a handwritten note before finding Mr Lee in his bedroom. It was fairly apparent he had been there for quite a long time."

PC Hemsley added he had spoken to Mr Lee's tenant, South Lakes Housing, and also referred him to social services because he was worried about his mental troubles.

Recording a narrative conclusion, Mr Smith said Mr Lee had died as a consequence of his own actions but the state of his mental faculty was not clear.

"There is no explanation how long he may have been there and without his family having any contact with him recently we will never know," he said.

"Obviously he lived his life in a different way to the way most of us do but he was entitled to live in whatever way he chose.

"He clearly was a highly intelligent person, respected in the world of genealogical research and very clearly a highly talented pianist and musician."

Addressing PC Hemsley, Mr Smith said: "Sometimes the police get a bad press but you had the presence of mind to wonder if he was alive. I know what you discovered and that must have been unpleasant so I just want to publicly thank you."

Afterwards, younger brother Edward Lee, 59, said: "He kept himself to himself and his final note suggested he felt he had completed his life's work."

He added his brother had previously competed in the Tchaikovsky International Pianoforte competition in Moscow and had written several respected books about genealogy as well as helping others to research family history.