THE grieving family of a man who died from a heart attack has been battling to retrieve personal belongings from his flat in Deane.

John Worthington died, aged 61, on May 7, after being found collapsed by a window cleaner at his flat in Blackshaw Lane.

His family have been trying to gain access to the Bolton At Home property since then, but have been left frustrated as housing officials will not allow them in because Mr Worthington’s ex-wife is the registered next of kin.

John’s brother, Tony, has criticised Bolton at Home’s approach, saying it was preventing the family from getting “closure”.

He said the family had to organise John’s funeral, which took place on May 20, without knowing if he had a funeral plan or any insurance to cover the costs because they had not seen his personal documents.

A Bolton at Home spokesman said they appreciated the family’s position, but stressed its duty to the legal next of kin.

Tony, aged 55, said: “I rang up the day after the funeral to get access to the flat and was told I would have to wait another seven days.

“We had to sort the funeral out and we didn’t know whether he had made provision for it because we cannot gain access. We are a grieving family and we cannot get closure until we sort out his affairs.”

Tony said Bolton at Home’s stance had also created a security risk as John’s bank card, passport and other valuable items were in the empty flat.

John, a retired joiner, was a “proud and independent” man, according to Tony. He split with his ex-wife 18 years ago and also had to overcome the death of his son Christopher six years ago.

He also endured a triple heart bypass in September, 2013, which Tony said he never fully recovered from.

Tony added: “I have got great memories of growing up with John and all the good times we had together and all the silly things we used to do as kids. He was a lovely bloke.”

A Bolton at Home spokesman said: “We appreciate that it’s a difficult time for family and we try to be as helpful as we can. We have an overriding duty to the legal next of kin.

“Where claimants are unable to provide proof, we issue a notice to the Public Trustee to establish the true next of kin. They will confirm who we can legally give access to the property.”