New technology may lead police to solve old crimes

Scarborough Harbour where the body was found (photo by Nick Fletcher) and below, the artist's impression of the man found in the harbour

Scarborough Harbour where the body was found (photo by Nick Fletcher) and below, the artist's impression of the man found in the harbour

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THE mystery of the identity of a man found dead in Scarborough harbour more than 22 years ago is one of eight “cold cases” being reviewed by North Yorkshire Police.

The middle-aged man was found at 6.15am on May 4 1989 – but has never been identified.

For Rob Preece. Forgotten deaths.''Dead man found in Scarborough Harbour

For Rob Preece. Forgotten deaths.''Dead man found in Scarborough Harbour

In 1989 his age was estimated at between 30 and 60. He was described as clean shaven, about 12st, 5ft 10in tall and had brown eyes.

The force said the review, started a few days ago, would enable it to take advantage of advances in technology not available at the time the remains were uncovered.

Detective superintendent Lewis Raw, head of North Yorkshire Police’s major and specialist crime unit, said the police had a duty on behalf of the coroner to try to uncover their identities.

He added: “There is also a moral case as well. Here we have somebody who has died and presumably somewhere they will have a family.

“There is a duty on us to try and find that family and perhaps bring some closure to that family in terms of the death of a loved one.”

The force appealed last year for more information about the man, believed to have been from Bolton.

The oldest of the cold cases it has now reopened dates back to August 1981, when the skeletal remains of a woman were found at a rural location near Sutton Bank.

In April 1999 the remains of a baby boy were discovered wrapped in plastic bags in Ryedale. A post-mortem examination found he was a baby of about 34 weeks’ gestation but was unable to confirm if the child had been born alive.

A cause of death could not be established.

And Whitby police were contacted by fishermen on February 14 2008 after they found a skull among their catch while trawling off the coast of Hartlepool.

With the help of forensic experts, a facial reconstruction was produced and circulated to the media in the hope that someone may have recognised the man from the digital images but his identity remains a mystery.

Forensic tests suggested the skull belongs to a man who died between the age of 20 and 50 and had been in the water for a minimum of two to three years, but could, if enclosed in a confined space, have been in the water for a lot longer.

It is believed the man was European, most probably with North-west European ancestry. A distinctive feature of the man’s teeth is that he was missing his left front tooth during life.