Staffordshire Bull Terrier and Jack Russell Terrier
A Staffordshire Bull terrier (L) and a Jack Russell terrier partially ate their owner, after she died alone (Aixeneta/Wikicommons, Plank/Wikicommons)

A Hampshire woman was eaten by her pet dogs after she died alone and her body lay undiscovered for days, an inquest has been told.

Noelle Baynham's body was eventually found by a close friend who let himself in after she failed to answer the door.

The body had been partly eaten by the dogs, a Jack Russell and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. The dogs were trapped alone in the house by their owner's death, with no one to care for them. They are thought to have initially attempted to wake her – as evidenced by scratch marks found on her chest – before becoming desperate for food.

It is believed the 61-year-old from Winchester died accidentally. The inquest heard that it was likely she collapsed after overdosing on her medication.

A 'horrific' site

Unfortunately, it was not possible to ascertain the precise cause of Baynham's death because the dogs ate parts of her vital organs. Her close friend Grant Donovan made the "horrific" discover of the body.

Donovan testified that he could hear the dogs barking and became worried that they were locked in the house alone. He found the back door unlocked and entered to find large amounts of dog faeces deposited around the house. Then he discovered Baynham's body on the landing.

"This was the most horrifying thing I have ever seen," he said. "I could not look at her long, so I just came away and called 999."

Detectives who attended following the discovery on 17 January found no evidence of a struggle or foul play. Baynham, a former jeweller, was found in her dressing gown and had run a bath immediately prior to her demise.

The inquest was told that Baynham had bipolar disorder as well as chronic alcoholism. She had been prescribed a range of medication. Blood tests found several drugs in her system, including potentially toxic levels of painkillers.

Senior central Hampshire coroner Grahame Short recorded an open verdict. He ruled that there was no evidence of suicide or an accidental fall, and concluded that Baynham may have had a stroke.