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Mystery of pensioner who travelled from London to the Pennines to die on a hillside

COPS are desperate for answers after a smartly-dressed pensioner died after lying down on a Pennines peak in atrocious weather.

Mystery surrounds the actions of the OAP who, having taken the train from London to Manchester, climbed the large hill after dark.

Sgt John Coleman from Greater Manchester Police said: “I’ve been doing this job for a long, long time and I have never known anything like it. It’s sad really. There might be a family who don’t know he’s dead.”

The body of the man thought to be aged around 70 on a track close to the summit of Indian’s Head above Dovestone reservoir close to the Peak District on December 12.

 

 

Starting his journey in London, the unidentified man had taken the train to Manchester before heading to the village of Greenfield in the borough of Oldham the day before.

He walked into The Clarence pub at 2pm and in what the landlord believes was a northern, but not Oldham, accent, asked "how do you get to the top of that mountain?", pointing to a 450m peak above Dovestone reservoir known as Indian’s Head.

Concerned, the landlord told the visitor there was no way he could make it back before sunset at 3.30pm. It was cold and the rain was lashing down "sideways" that day.

Undeterred, the man set off. Witnesses spotted him about a mile up the steep track to the summit at 4.30pm. A second witness saw him about three-quarters of the way to the top but he never made it.

The next morning, at 10.45am on a Saturday, a walker found his body lying down on a boggy section of track, face upwards and head pointing towards the summit.

His legs were together and arms by his side. The body was in full view.

The indications are that he has simply lain down and died at that spot. There was no sign of a fall or any disturbance.

He was wearing black slip-on shoes, a blue coat and a white shirt with a collar – totally inappropriate clothing for a hike in atrocious weather. No wallet was found although he had £130 in cash – all £10 notes – in his pockets and the three train tickets he purchased the day before.

No documents, scars, marks or tattoos were found on his body, although a couple of teeth were missing. His DNA was checked and no match found against a series of databases.

Checks of missing person databases also yielded no clues as to his identity, and nor did enquiries with hospitals around west London.

A post-mortem examination proved inconclusive and further toxicology tests are being carried out to establish a cause of death.

Det Sgt Coleman added: “Maybe he lived in the area as a younger man and was re-visiting. What drew him to the area is another line of enquiry.”

Police have plotted the man striding with an apparent purpose "backwards and forwards" through Ealing in west London before making his way to Ealing Broadway railway station at 9am on the day before his body was discovered.

At 9.07am he bought a ticket to Euston station where he was seen going to booth three and paying £81 cash for a return to Manchester Piccadilly. It departed at 10am and arrived in Manchester at 12.07pm.

Once at Piccadilly he appeared to be in no hurry, spending about 50 minutes in various shops at the station – including Boots and M&S – buying food.

He then spent four-and-a-half minutes at the information counter, although enquiries have not established why he spent so long there or what he was asking about.

Then he went to the taxi rank at Piccadilly before coming back into the station and heading out through the front entrance.

Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0161 856 8972 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.