A BURGLAR may have discovered the body of a pensioner found dead on Christmas Day, police revealed today.

Spinster Marjorie Smith was found in her home in Bank Street, Brierfield, after a worried friend failed to raise her when she went to her house.

The alarm was raised when Miss Smith, who was believed to be 75 and thought to be a former teacher, did not to turn up at her friend's house on Christmas Day for lunch.

Officers found Miss Smith's body in the house and it is believed she died of natural causes. They said hypothermia may have been a contributory factor.

Post and newspapers behind the door indicated she may have been dead for a couple of weeks.

Detective Inspector Simon Leach said: "There had been some damage to the back door and the back gate was open. The back door had not been forced but it was very very unusual for it to have been left like that.

"I am a bit concerned as to how the damage occurred to the back door. Has someone come along, come to the back door and noticed Miss Smith and not contacted the police?

"There is the potential that someone found the body and did not tell us. If someone did I want that person to come forward, no matter why they were at the house.

"There was nothing stolen from the house and there was no third party involvement in her death.

"She has no immediate family and would only meet up with friends once or twice a year at Easter and Christmas.

"We are particularly anxious to speak to who saw Marjorie or came across her in the last two to six weeks. Where did she shop? Is there anyone else who may have visited her that we have not spoken to?"

A post mortem examination was carried out on Christmas Day but the results have not yet been released.

A neighbour said today: "She kept herself to herself. I have lived here for 30 years and she was living on this street before I moved here.

"She was a spinster and had no family. It is terrible that something like this should happen on Christmas Day.

"I used to see her going past with her shopping but in the last few months I didn't think she was looking that good."

Anyone with information can contact Nelson CID on 01282 472645.