AN EMAIL tip-off from Switzerland led to a former councillor discovering a pensioner lying dead on the floor of his Clayton-le-Moors flat.
The body of "loner" Geoffrey Benn, 66, was found by Tim O’Kane at his Alexandra Close home last Saturday morning.
Bizarrely, Mr O’Kane had been emailed by the dead man’s financial adviser Michel Favez, worried he had not been in touch for some time.
The front door to the ground floor flat was unlocked and police believe he had been dead for over a week.
Mr O’Kane, of Charles Street, had helped the Swiss national move to the area 20 years ago and assisted him with French translations and emails.
He explained: "It was pretty nasty. When the police got there they took me outside to calm me down a bit.
"I was reluctant to go back in but they had no-one to identify him. I was sorting out some financial stuff for him and it was just convenient to have somebody like me around who could deal with things."
He added: "I think his dad owned a chocolate factory in Switzerland, but he was on pension credit."
The grim discovery sparked an international search for Mr Benn’s loved ones, and Mr O’Kane was even called by Interpol.
According to further email exchanges with Mr Favez, Mr Benn’s father is still alive in a suburb of Lausanne - while he also has a daughter living abroad who has not been contacted.
Next-door neighbour Mark Baker said he was "devastated" when he found out about the news.
He said: "He liked to keep himself to himself and liked his peace and quiet - if I made a racket he would let me know. But I thought it was odd that I had not seen him for a few days."
Another neighbour Angela Speirs said she used to see Mr Benn regularly in the nearby Forts Arms pub.
"I didn’t know him very well but he was a nice man," she said. "They were saying in the pub that it was strange they haven’t seen him - they figured he was just poorly."
A police spokesperson said they were called to a sudden death at the address and are not treating it as suspicious.