THE MYSTERY man found dead on Saddleworth moor died from a lethal dose of strychnine poison, police have revealed.
The revelation is the latest bizarre twist in a worldwide search by detectives to identify the man whose body was discovered near Chew Reservoir in Greenfield three months ago.
Police are still trying to establish a motive for him making a solo 200-mile trip from a London suburb to end his life at Chew track, a popular route with walkers.
Detective Sergeant John Coleman, the Oldham CID officer leading the hunt, said: “There are still many more questions than answers.”
The traces of strychnine poison were found after toxicology reports on the man, believed to be aged between mid-60’s-70s, showed he was also taking a second drug which can be used to combat high blood pressure or prevent mental health problems.
The findings are provisional and have been released pending the coroners’ courts determination after an inquest on the man was opened and adjourned.
Strychnine is a highly toxic, white, odourless, bitter crystalline powder which can be taken by mouth, inhaled, breathed in or mixed in a solution and given by injecting directly into a vein.
In the past, it was available in a pill form to treat human ailments but today it is used primarily as a pesticide, particularly to kill moles and rats.
Det Sgt Coleman added: “Due to its toxicity and danger to the public, strychnine has been strictly legislated since 2001 and can only be obtained under the strictest of licence.
“It’s illegal to purchase in the UK, Europe and the Americas. There is no antidote.”
The findings come ahead of a second postmortem and add another intriguing dimension to the saga which has involved Interpol and a nationwide trawl across the UK.
The unidentified man has been named Neil Dovestones by mortuary technicians, referring to the area of moorland where the body was found.
Initial police inquiries focussed on the man’s last journey from Ealing Broadway station via London Euston and on by express train to Manchester Piccadilly on December 11.
He was tracked on CCTV and paid cash for all his transactions, which included return tickets to Euston.
He was wearing a heavy brown jacket, blue jumper, white long-sleeved open necked shirt, blue corduroy trousers and polished, black slip-on size nine shoes.
CCTV footage shows him leaving Piccadilly station but the trail went cold until and he walked into The Clarence, Greenfield, and asked directions “to the top of the mountain.”
Tragically, he was found dead on a grass lay-by at the side of the track the following morning.
He carried no identification, mobile phone, credit cards or keys – just £130 in £10 notes in his jacket pocket, the three rail tickets and a small, empty tablet bottle.
The plastic bottle, with instructions in English and Urdu, was labelled as containing 100 thyroid tablets.
The mystery deepened when a further examination of the body discovered a 11cm titanium plate to support a broken left femur.
“This established the gentleman sustained a significant injury between 2001 and 2015,” explained Det Sgt Coleman.
“The piece of metal was fitted sometime between those dates in Pakistan but it does not mean he was Pakistani.”
Detectives are sifting through thousands of files on men who had similar operations in Pakistan with the help of the titanium plate manufacturers, health authorities and the British Consulate.
Now, with poison topping the inquiry agenda, the empty plastic bottle is undergoing more detailed examinations.
If you know the man’s identity, call GMP on 0161 872 5050.