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Body too decomposed for cause of death

PUBLISHED: 15:58 02 September 2010 | UPDATED: 16:18 02 September 2010

The body of Colin Barnes was found off Canal Road, Higham. An inquest ruled the cause of death could not be ascertained due to the level of decomposition

The body of Colin Barnes was found off Canal Road, Higham. An inquest ruled the cause of death could not be ascertained due to the level of decomposition

Archant

A corpse found by dog walkers in the woods was so decomposed forensic scientists cannot confirm the cause of death an inquest has been told.

A corpse found by dog walkers in the woods was so decomposed forensic scientists cannot confirm the cause of death an inquest has been told.

Detective Inspector Melanie Smith told the coroners court at The Victoria Centre, Gravesend on Thursday the body of 45-year-old Colin Barnes could have been lying in woodland off Canal Road, Higham for almost a year before it was discovered on April 7 this year.

Mr Barnes, a forklift truck driver, was last seen living in rented accommodation in Kimberley Road, Croydon in May 2009, though police investigations revealed a Canal Road resident believed a man was living rough in the woods for some time before the discovery.

DI Smith said: “With his remains were found a pair of scissors, some clothing and material, a wallet and a tarpaulin believed to be used as a ground sheet. Human bones were found scattered around but the scattering is believed to have been done by animals.”

“Someone must have discovered the wallet some time after and removed the items, and decided against reporting the discovery,” she added.

Police found no signs of violence, but the state of the body made it impossible to rule out suicide or strangulation.

In conclusion coroner Roger Hatch said: “In regard of this description and everything I have heard I am left with no alternative than to record that Colin Barnes’ death must remain open.”

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