THE body of a man who may have been dead for up to two years was discovered in a terraced house this week.
The badly decomposed corpse was found on Monday after concerned neighbours contacted the police.
It is understood officers discovered the body of recluse Brian Dean, 70, lying on a bed at his home.
Neighbours said Mr Dean used only to be seen after dark, wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a rucksack.
But they confirmed this week that no-one had seen him for "some time".
Neighbour Councillor Paul Gott, who contacted the police, said: "People hadn’t seen him for a while, which wasn’t that unusual. He was quite a recluse. He used to come out when it was dark but that was infrequent.
"The community police came round and banged on the door and shouted through the letterbox.
"The police then arrived and forced entry into the house where they found him dead lying on his bed.
"He must have been paranoid about security because he cocooned himself in his house."
Neighbour Anita Higginson, 31, said the blinds of Mr Dean’s window at his house in Station Road, Huncoat, had been closed for several years with a board in the window saying ‘use back door’.
She said: "It got to the point where I was starting to think the worst.
"His next door neighbour hadn’t heard him playing music for some time and I could see his mail piling up through his glass front door.
"I suggested that someone should do something so my friend and I contacted Councillor Gott who lives around the corner in James Street.
"I think the man was a bit paranoid because people said he never used the front door and only went out at night.
"Last winter we had a lot of flies which I thought was strange, but I just thought a bird had died in my chimney.
"I was shocked to hear how long he had been there. If we hadn’t have raised the alarm he could have been there for a lot longer.
"I think it’s a shame that he didn’t have anyone and that he died alone.
"I feel sorry for the police who found him. It must have been awful."
It is thought no official alarm was raised as his bills and council tax were being paid by direct debits from his pension.
Mr Harry Stevenson, who knew Mr Dean from his time at Peel Park Primary School, told the Observer his paranoia started when he was in the Army.
Mr Stevenson, of Lime Road, Accrington, said: "In 1958 we served in the Army as National Service men.
"When he was serving in Germany there was a barrack room dispute and he was hit over the head with a fire extinguisher and had to have a metal plate fitted in his head.
"He was never the same after that and got worse when his parents, who he lived with, died."
Mr Stevenson said Mr Dean, a former engineer, used to be a keen cyclist and collector.
Detective Inspector Jill Johnston, who was called out to the scene, said: "We believe Mr Dean may have been in the house for over two years because mail dating back to June 2006 was stacked up behind his door.
"We know Mr Dean was a very private man and it is very sad that he had not been missed by anybody for such a long time."
Police confirmed yesterday a cousin of Mr Dean, said to be living in Brierfield, had been traced.
His funeral details are uncertain at this time.
His death is not thought to be suspicious and the coroner has confirmed that he is satisfied Mr Dean died of natural causes.