Four men have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter after a Sunderland pensioner died four months on from bogus callers forcing their way into her home.
Detectives believe Joan Barnett may have been left lying in agony on the floor of her home in Tunstall for 10 hours, after she was targeted at about 2pm on August 18 last year.
Once there is further advice through the Crown Prosecution Service, a decision will be taken in respect of a charge which may follow.Coroner Derek Winter
At the time, police said the 87-year-old was shoved to the floor after she opened the door to men who claimed they were carrying out gardening work in the area.
The men pushed past her and one pushed her to the floor before they left empty handed.
The attack was reported to police when she was found shortly before 11pm that evening.
The pensioner died in Sunderland Royal Hospital on November 11 last year. She had been admitted to hospital for treatment to a shoulder injury after her ordeal.
Northumbria Police has now confirmed men aged 26, 29, 43 and 53 have been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and have been bailed pending further inquiries.
At an inquest review into the pensioner’s death at Sunderland Civic Centre this week, coroner Derek Winter said the police inquiry was still ongoing.
He added: “Inquiries are being carried out by the police and I’m informed by the officer in charge that there is a file of evidence, and there are certain lines of inquiry still outstanding.
“Once there is further advice through the Crown Prosecution Service, a decision will be taken in respect of a charge which may follow.
“In these circumstances it is not possible to fix a date for an inquest and I intend to adjourn these proceedings until January 7. By then a decision will have been made whether or not there will be criminal proceedings.”
At the time of the incident, Acting Chief Inspector Paul Stewart hit out at the “cowardly actions” of the bogus callers, and said: “This was obviously extremely distressing for the woman and we’re doing everything possible to trace these men involved.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on 101, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.