Twins die after suspected gas leak
The bodies of identical twin sisters have been found in a shared flat following a suspected carbon monoxide leak.
Police were called to the property on Beulah Hill, Upper Norwood, just before 12.30pm on Monday, after a member of the public raised concern for the women's welfare.
Two fire crews were also called to the scene at 12.46pm and entered the property wearing chemical suits and breathing apparatus.
The bodies of the two women, who are believed to be about 50-years-old, were found in separate rooms within the second-floor property.
A police cordon was put in place and an ambulance was also sent to the address just after 1pm, to remove the bodies.
Their deaths are currently being treated as unexplained.
Jackie and Stephanie Berry were identical twins who lived a reclusive life.
The sisters inherited their flat, in a house opposite St Joseph's College on Beulah Hill, in 2005, but let it fall into a state of disrepair.
Neighbours have spoken of their shock at their deaths, but said the women rarely left their home, choosing to only talk to a couple of people.
The women were known to social services after those living near-by raised concerns about their behaviour and welfare.
Upper Norwood Councillor Pat Ryan, who also lives in Beulah Hill, said he contacted social services in March 2010 after another resident became concerned about their behaviour.
He said: "She was very concerned about them. Their toilet wasn't working and there was no sanitary system in the property.
"They were depositing their excrement in their front and back gardens and sometimes taking it to the back of the shops at Crown Point.
"I contacted social services, who visited them, but they couldn't gain entry. I last saw one of the sisters about three weeks ago.
"She would occasionally stop to have a chat. We all feel a bit sad really because it was something waiting to happen.
"The signs were there for the council and social services to do something. It's very sad that we have lost two people who were crying out for help."
A council officer and PCSO are understood to have visited the property last December after receiving reports they were throwing faeces out of their window.
The pair agreed to stop and their toilet was checked and found to be working.
During the visit, the pair were offered support but declined, telling officers they were fine.
But Patrick Boothe, 55, lived next door to the sisters, who were big drinkers, for two years.
He said he became concerned about their welfare when Jackie told him there was no electricity in their flat last year.
Mr Boothe, a singer, songwriter and music producer, said the sisters told him they had gone to the authorities for help but had been refused.
He said: "They needed help. They never had any light, the electricity board cut them off because they couldn't pay the bill. I don't think there were any utilities in that house.
"I was one of the only people who would speak to them on this road, I was worried for them. Last summer I pushed them into going back to the job centre to see about getting benefits.
"I offered to go with them but they refused. When they got back they said they were told they couldn't get help."
Mr Boothe said the sisters never spoke of family members and he had never seen anyone visit them.
He said Stephanie tended to leave the house to go to the shop, but Jackie was shy and rarely left the house.
"Occasionally Stephanie would get her [Jackie] out and when I would see the two of them walking together I felt a bit happier myself," he added.
"They had a real good bond, they just needed help. They died together but they died alone. We have a system that is meant to help them, but it failed them."
He said: "I really cared about them, this is very difficult for me right now, knowing they are actually dead.
"If I had had any indication, I would have been the first one to call the police."
A spokesman for Croydon Council said: "We were contacted about a leaking toilet at the privately-owned in March 2010. Housing officers went but were denied access.
"Social services were then alerted and were also denied access on a number of occasions. Letters from the council offering assistance also went unanswered.
"In July 2010 complaints about anti-social behaviour at the property were received.
"Council officers called again, but no evidence was found and access continued to be denied."