The identity of the ‘man on the moors’ may remain a mystery forever police have admitted for the first time.
But Detective Sergeant John Coleman, who has now led the global hunt for clues for nine months after the body was found near Chew Reservoir in Greenfield, is optimistic current investigations may finally lead to a breakthrough.
If not, then DS Coleman concedes he may be asked to close the file by his bosses to deploy manpower and financial resources to other cases if a major breakthrough isn’t made.
Attempts to discover the pensioner’s name through finger print tests in Pakistan have frustratingly already drawn a blank.
An inquest into the death of ‘Neil Dovestone’ was opened in Heywood last month by HM Coroner for Manchester North, Simon Nelson, and adjourned for six weeks to allow the hunt to continue.
Now DS Coleman is pinning hopes on ground breaking scientific work being undertaken at a Dutch university.
Isotope analysis of bones taken from the body is already underway in Amsterdam by a world leading specialist.
“He is hopeful he can identify the region where this guy lived most of his life and where he was in the weeks prior to his death,” DS Coleman told the Independent after recently returning from Holland.
“At the moment I am looking at the entire Indian sub continent but hopefully this work will narrow it right down. These are significant enquiries but science takes time.”
Enquiries are also continuing in Pakistan to find the surgeon who carried out a distinctive operation to insert a 10cm metal into the unknown corpse’s left leg between 2001 and 2015.
“We have spoken to their equivalent of the Royal Society of Surgeons and sent them copies of the X rays and details of unique element of the operation that took place on the unidentified male.
“They are sending those X rays and details round to all 15 hospitals we have identified and throughout their Associations to try and find the surgeon.
“The thought is the surgeon who did that work would recall the work firstly because the gentleman is white and secondly the surgery in someway was unique.”
Sadly, for DS Coleman a search of the Pakistani fingerprint data base came back for negative.
“According to the Pakistani authorities, if Neil was one of their nationals he would be on that fingerprint data base. But there has been no hit.
“It may signify he wasn’t a Pakistani national or the fingerprints weren’t of significant quality.
“With fingerprints you are only as good as the initial fingerprint that were taken. It’s not definitive but it would suggest he might not be Pakistani.”
Any hopes of cracking the case are now on hold until at least next month (October) when results of the isotope analysis come back.
“The coroner is pretty adamant he wants the body identified,’ said DS Coleman. “As a GMP officer we do what we can but once those enquiries which are obvious are exhausted then that’s the end of the investigation.
“There are lots of bodies that haven’t been identified in the UK and I hope he is not going to be one of them. He might well be but not through the lack of trying. You can only go as far as you can.”