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Body found in Kemberland Woods, Sturry, is John Phillips, who went missing from his Manston home in 1998.

Police vehicles at Kemberland Woods where the body of John Phillips, from Manston, was found
Police vehicles at Kemberland Woods where the body of John Phillips, from Manston, was found

The body of a man found in woods has been identified as John Phillips who disappeared from his Manston home 15 years ago.

A member of the public found the bones of Mr Phillips at Kemberland Woods, Sturry, in April.

Mr Phillips was 77 when he disappeared from his home on March 20, 1998.

His remains were hidden in undergrowth about 150 yards off the Herne Bay Road.

His son Barry said: “We are relieved as a family that dad has finally been found but obviously very sad about the circumstances.”

Police have been working with the Missing Persons Bureau to establish his identity.

They made the initial identification using descriptions of his clothing and followed that up with DNA evidence to confirm it. A forensic archaeologist and a forensic odontologist also helped in the identification.

A post mortem examination of his body was not able to reveal a cause of death.

But there were no signs of trauma so police do not believe his death was suspicious.

Detectives have established that a relative of Mr Phillips’s lived near the wood and that he may have known the area.

Det Ch Insp David Chewter added: “I hope that it is a comfort to the members of Mr Phillips’s family that we have been able to provide an answer for them. They are in our thoughts at what must be a difficult time.”

Self-employed decorator Stephen Birch lives next to the woods and was having breakfast when Mr Phillips’s bones were discovered on April 16.

He told the Gazette: “At first I thought there were people trying to cut the trees down, even though they’re protected.

“These woods were once used by naturists. I’m going back 20 or a few more years here, but there was a time when my dad took my nephew up there and they came across all these people in the woods with no clothes on. The man that owned it all those years ago was a bit funny.”

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