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Strychnine theory in mystery death of pensioner on Pennine moors

Body found near Dovestone beauty spot

A mystery man found dead on Pennine moorland had suffered strychnine poisoning.

The pensioner was discovered at a beauty spot on the moors in December with no signs of a struggle or fall and detectives are still unable to identify him.

The white man aged between 65 and 75, was found fully clothed by a cyclist on December 12 near a hill known as the Indian’s Head, an outcrop near the top of Dovestone Reservoir.

The reservoir is visited by many Huddersfield families and walkers.

Theories have included the pensioner suffering a serious illness and needing to “get some peace” at the beauty spot, or having a connection to a 1949 plane crash near where he was found.

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Twenty-four people were killed in the accident but two children survived - two-year-old Michael Prestwich who died 10 years later, and five-year-old Stephen Evans.

Greater Manchester Police have confirmed the unidentified pensioner had strychnine in his system - a highly toxic substance used in rat poison.

The mystery man arrived at Ealing Broadway in London just after 9am on December 11. He is next picked up by CCTV at 9.50am at Euston buying an £81 return ticket to Manchester Piccadilly in cash, arriving at 12.07pm.

Anna Christensen
Dovestone Reservoir

On arrival he spent 53 minutes wandering around the train station before heading into Manchester city centre.

The next sighting is at the Clarence Pub in Greenfield, Saddleworth, where he asked the landlord how he got to the top of the hill, but he was not wearing walking clothes. He had a “northern” but not local accent.

Later that day around 4.30pm, in darkness, a motorist spotted him near to where he was found the day after, around three quarters of the way up to the top of the hill.

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When he was found he had three train tickets, including a return to London Euston, and £130 in £10 notes in his pocket, but no mobile phone or identifying documents.

Police describe him as white, of slim build, with a receding hairline with grey hair to the side and back. He had a large nose which may have been previously broken, and was clean shaven.

He wore a brown heavy jacket, blue jumper, white long-sleeve shirt, blue corduroy trousers and black slip-on shoes.

Anyone with information should phone police on 0161 856 8972 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

In unrelated investigations, police would like to speak to the people pictured in the image gallery below. The people pictured in the images may be witnesses as well as suspects. If you recognise anyone, contact police on 101 quoting the reference number on the image caption.



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