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Man found dead in Wincheap field ‘unlikely to be identified’

A mystery man discovered dead in a field near Canterbury was “living at the edge of existence” and never wanted to be found, a coroner has ruled.

An inquest into his death was told it is likely the man will never be identified, despite a Europe-wide search of DNA databases.

He was found on February 3 in the middle of a field bordering Hollow Lane in Wincheap, lying on his back naked to the waist with his arms folded across his body.

Detectives released this striking picture in the hope it would prompt someone to come forward
Detectives released this striking picture in the hope it would prompt someone to come forward

He had died from heart disease, which might have been brought on by cirrhosis of the liver, which in turn could have been as a result of starvation, the hearing in Margate was told.

Walker Gareth Morgan discovered the body after initially mistaking it for a pile of a rubbish.

He had read in the our sister paper the Kentish Gazette about homeless people having their possessions stolen and thought the pile might be connected.

Mr Morgan said: “Due to what I had read in the article, I left for work early with the intention of checking out the pile of rubbish. It was 50 metres into the field.

“I got to it and realised it was the body of a white male. He had no top on and there were items surrounding him, including a book. I called 999.”

Acting DS Gary Stamp led the hunt for the man’s identity.

He said: “There were no signs of injury, no clues in his clothing. His fingerprints had no match and we couldn’t match any DNA samples. We went right across Europe to try to find the identity of this man.”

Police taped off an alley near the field
Police taped off an alley near the field

A forensic reconstruction of the man’s face was produced but nobody identified him.

Officers found a mobile phone but couldn’t get any data from it. They found a number of items relating to east London, including an Oyster card bought in Walthamstow which was never used.

They also found a black suitcase, a book on clinical theology and a wedding catalogue addressed to a woman called Mandy Martin. ADS Stamp said: “We carried out extensive house-to-house inquiries and talked to fruit pickers in the area but we found nothing.

“We also went to two homeless centres in Canterbury and they couldn’t help. We got numerous names but gradually they were ruled out. We couldn’t do dental checks as he had no teeth.”

Officers believe the man was in his 50s and may have been eastern European.

The man had a Clinical Theology book on him
The man had a Clinical Theology book on him

DNA samples have been sent to various countries. They found several leads in the field including a glass decanter and glasses but each inquiry led to a dead end. The officer could not explain why items relating to east London had been found in the field.

Assistant north east Kent coroner Ian Gollop said: “You have made a very thorough job trying to trace him. This is clearly a man who didn’t want to be found and was living at the edge of existence. You couldn’t have done any more but sadly we have to close the case.”

He ruled that the man had died from natural causes.

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