by Trevor Baxter
A GRANDFATHER missing from a Northern Ireland hospital since 1994 is not the mystery man found dead at a Greenfield beauty spot nearly two months ago.
Ulsterman Hugh Toner was eliminated from the case after samples from his son Sean didn’t match the DNA of the elderly man discovered on Chew track, leading to Chew Reservoir on December 12.
Another person from Tameside was also eliminated from police inquiries as the Saddleworth Independent went to press.
Despite the double set-back detectives remain “confident” they will eventually trace the identity of the pensioner and how and why he was there.
However, Detective Sergeant John Coleman admitted: “It may be a while before we get a hit.
“We had an inkling it wasn’t the male from the beginning but for completeness we had to do forensic examination of the DNA. It was a long shot but one we have now managed to finalise.
“We also had reports of a male missing from the Church Inn in Droylsden since December, described as similar as our missing from home who had travelled to London.
“So, we rushed down there but it wasn’t him. The male has subsequently been seen and we move on.
“We are getting through the backlog of calls from members of the public with information. But I am always confident. If you are not, you don’t work as well.”
The Toner family issued a statement after confirmation the man – who has been given the name of Neil by hospital mortuary staff – wasn’t their relative.
Sean, 49 from Newry, said: “I have been informed by the police that the DNA sample I have supplied is not a match with the body of the gentleman found on Saddleworth moor.
“Although this is a set back for my family, we will continue to search for answers in the hope that someday we will have closure.
“I would like to thank everyone who has assisted us over the years and especially in the last month including family, friends, the police and members of the media.
“I hope and pray that the man whose body was found is reconnected with loved ones so he can be at peace.”
Meanwhile, the search for the man’s identity is going global as DNA samples from the mystery pensioner have been sent to Interpol-International Crime Police Organisation.
The case details have also been sent to producers of the popular BBC Crimewatch programme.
Anyone who recognises this man or has any information should phone police on 0161 872 5050 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.