THE BODY of a man found in a pond at Coate Water was so badly decomposed even DNA testing has not been able to prove who he is.

When mysterious remains were discovered in the murky pond on Saturday, April 12, police said the body was so badly decomposed they could barely tell if it was a man or a woman.

Detectives hoped DNA testing would reveal his identity, but there was so little soft tissue left on his body, forensic scientists will now have to test his bones before the investigation can go any further.

Chief Supt Norman McKeaveney, in charge of the investigation, said: "We did have high expectation we would be able to get confirmation of this man's identity through the DNA testing. However, we have now been told that the body was so badly decomposed a more scientific process is needed.

"It will still be done through his DNA, but by a more complicated method, so it could take several months.

"Being in the water so long seriously reduced the amount of material left that could be DNA tested.

"In the meantime we will be working on preparing a list of possible names, so that when we get the results we should easily be able to match them up."

Officers are working on a list of men who have not been seen during the months the body is thought to have been in the water. They will trawl through missing persons and unsolved case files in the hope of finding answers.

In the days after the body was discovered, teams of police officers spent days on the banks of the pond, looking for clues to the man's identity and how he died.

"As far as our inquiry is concerned we still haven't got an explanation. The post-mortem was inconclusive, undoubtedly because of the amount of time he had been in the water," Chief Supt McKeaveney added.

"As far as the inquiry is concerned, there has been nothing unearthed so far to suggest a crime has been committed.

"It looks like he may have died of natural causes."

Detectives have said the man's body must have been in the water for several months. The remains were found floating in the pond by a man taking a Saturday afternoon stroll in the park.

Several days were then spent searching the stagnant pool, near the Marlborough Road entrance to the park. Specialist divers searched the thick mud at the bottom, while teams scoured the reeds around the pond for clues.