An inquest into the death of a Norfolk man who was missing for four months has opened.

The body of James Whitman, from Gressenhall, near Dereham, was discovered in a field off the B1108 Watton Road on October 18.

The 40-year-old had not been seen since June 13 at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

On Monday (October 31), the inquest into Mr Whitman's death was opened at Norwich Coroner's Court.

Yvonne Blake, area coroner for Norfolk, said an identification statement had been provided by a member of staff at NNUH on October 26.

The inquest heard Mr Whitman was born in Norwich in 1982 and had worked as a landscape gardener.

He lived in Hall's Drive, Gressenhall.

The court was told that Dr Laszlo Igali, a consultant histopathologist at NNUH, gave Mr Whitman's cause of death as unascertained.

Mr Whitman's disappearance sparked a significant search operation in the area of Earlham Park and the University of East Anglia, including the lake at the UEA, but nothing was found.

People living near the hospital were urged by police to check outbuildings and sheds, while walkers were also called upon to assist with the search in the Eaton, Bowthorpe, Cringleford and Earlham Park area.

More searches - led by the Lowland Search and Rescue Team - took place on the outskirts of Norwich in September but, again, no trace of Mr Whitman was found.

Superintendent Kris Barnard later said officers had "exhausted all avenues open to us".

Police were then called on the morning of Tuesday, October 18 after a member of the public reported they had found a body.

A full inquest into Mr Whitman's death has been fixed for April 19, 2023 at Norwich Coroner's Court.

Mr Whitman's funeral is being held at Breckland Crematorium, Scoulton on November 21, 1pm.

This will be followed by a celebration of his life at the Railway Arms in North Elmham.