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Man found dead near caravan park; Passer-by finds body on footpath.

Byline: By LIZ WALKER and MATT CASEY

MYSTERY surrounds the discovery of a body near a caravan park.

Detectives have launched an investigation after the man was found lying by a footpath, near a popular beauty spot.

The body was discovered by a passer-by shortly before 3.30pm on Monday, near Fin-chale Caravan Park, north of Durham.

Attempts to identify him have failed and the cause of death is still unknown.

Det Ch Insp Paul Harker said: "At this stage we are non the wiser as to who this man is or where he has come from.

"It's believed he had been dead for hours rather than days.

"There were no clues in the immediate area to suggest he has been sleeping rough.

"There is nothing so far to indicate he has been the victim of foul play, but until we have a cause of death we must keep an open mind."

The man is thought to be in his early 20s, but could be aged between 18 and 30.

He is described as white, 6ft 1in tall and very thin. He had a shaven head, but no obvious piercings or tattoos and was wearing a blue polo shirt, black trousers and black Nike trainers.

There were several scratches on his face and arms, but police believe these are consistent with the man having struggled through undergrowth rather than being the victim of an assault.

The area was cordoned off and crime scene investigators conducted an examination.

The body was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham, where an inconclusive post-mortem was carried out.

Police are treating his death as unexplained.

No form of identification was found on the man and checks of outstanding missing person lists have drawn a blank.

A set of finger prints also failed to produce an identity.

The owners of caravans at the park, next to the site of the historic Finchale Priory, were stunned by the death.

One woman, who lives on the site and did not want to be named, said: "It was a bit of a shock really.

"Apparently the body was found about 500-metres from the site.

"We don't think the man was a caravan owner.

"I have heard the description of the man on the radio and it doesn't fit anybody that I know, but some of the caravans are rented out, especially at bank holiday weekends."

A man who also lives on the site said: "It was a shock. We don't think anything like this has happened here before, but I know that many years ago a man drowned in the nearby Wear."

Anyone with information is asked to contact CID in Durham or Chester-le-Street on 0845 60 60 365.
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 7, 2008
Words:452
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