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Skull with woolly hat on and found by dog walker was that of missing man Norman Race
The mystery of a man missing for months was solved when dog walker found a skull still with a woolly hat on in the Hampshire country side.
Steve Wells then discovered the skeletal remains of 62-year-old Norman Race nearby.
The discovery was made while digger Mr Wells walked his dogs in the woods at Cheriton, near Andover.
Mr Race’s body was identified through DNA analysis but it remains unclear how he died as a post-mortem was not possible, but a noose was found nearby with a torso.
In a statement read out at the inquest, Mr Wells, from Alton, said: “I went to look for my dogs and saw a skull wearing a woolly hat near a tree, at first I thought it was a prank, but when I looked closer I was really shocked and took some photos from about two metres away. I drove home to Alton and told my wife before ringing the police.”
Police ruled out suspicious circumstances but said the body may have been there for months.
It brought ot an end months of appeals and searching for Mr Race by family police after he had vanished from his home without trace.
The inquest heard Mr Race, of Hastings, East Sussex, had not been seen by friends or family in Sussex since August 2012 when he said he was “camping up north”.
He was reported missing last September and his sister Lilian Gibbins put out an emotional appeal for him to get in touch.
In the appeal she said: “My brother is an introvert but has never gone away for this amount of time. As far as I know he has little money on him. If anyone knows where he may be they should let police know."
Police initially believed the self-employed labourer had cycled to Kent.
Mrs Gibbins told the inquest: “He was the sort of guy that if he had had enough of something he would go off on his own. He would not worry about camping equipment, he would just go camping and that would be it.”
She added: “If he did not want to talk to you he wouldn’t. He told someone he was going up north; I didn’t know where he was or what had happened.”
Mrs Gibbins said Mr Race had rarely seen a doctor or dentist since 1972 and that he had a chest infection in July 2012 and was losing weight, leading to concerns over his health.
Coroner for Central Hampshire Grahame Short said the death would remain a mystery and recorded an open verdict.
He said: “It’s fair to say he had a troubled life and he was fairly independently-minded and a private person who would not always share with others what his feelings were.
“There’s no way we will ever know how Norman came from East Sussex and ended up in the Hampshire countryside.”
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