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Detectives baffled by body discovery

PUBLISHED: 11:57 07 October 2008 | UPDATED: 14:45 07 July 2010

Ian Clarke

The body of a mystery man found in remote woodland near the Bernard Matthews poultry factory had blood around his mouth and nose and a shoe and sock missing, detectives revealed today.

The body of a mystery man found in remote woodland near the Bernard Matthews poultry factory had blood around his mouth and nose and a shoe and sock missing, detectives revealed today.

Officers admit they still have no idea who the man is who was discovered at Rabbit Lane, Great Witchingham, near Dereham, and how he died.

Finger prints are being taken and checked to see if they match records. DNA analysis could also be used to identify him.

A 10-strong group of officers from the major investigation team is working on the case and theories range from the possibility he could have been murdered and dumped to the possibility he had been sleeping rough and dying.

It is thought he died within the last few days as there was no significant decomposition.

Officers are searching through records of missing men in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to get clues about who he could be.

Detectives are also working with the personnel department at Bernard Matthews to see if any staff - especially migrant workers - had not turned up for work as normal.

The body was discovered by a member of the public at about 12.45pm on Monday and he was covered by fence panels.

Rabbit Lane is a single track lane just off Porters Lane and near the poultry factory.

The site where the man was found is used by fly-tippers.

The man was aged 30-50, with white skin and some facial hair which was going grey. He was unshaven.

A white tent has been put over the area where he was found and the body has remained there while investigations are carried out.

Forensic officers spent today at the scene gathering clues.

The man's body is due to be removed later today and a post mortem examination is likely to be carried out tomorrow at the James Paget Hospital, Gorleston, by Home Office pathologist Ben Swift.

Det Chief Insp Steve Strong, who is heading the inquiry, said: “It is a mystery indeed and we have no idea who he is or what caused him to die. We are doing lots of work trying to identify missing people. As yet this death is being treated as unexplained. We do not know what has happened to the man.”

He said there was a small amount of blood around the man's mouth and nose and one of his shoes and socks was missing.

Mr Strong praised Bernard Matthews' personnel department for help in going through staff records.

“Bernard Matthews' director of human resources Andrew Sherwood contacted me first thing today to offer his services to go through records and they have been very helpful.”

People in Great Witchingham were shocked by the discovery of the body.

Patricia McGee, 65, who lives on Norwich Road, said she regularly walks her dog along Rabbit Lane and that the area was usually a very quite place to live.

She said: “It is really shocking something like this could have happened, especially so close.”

Curtis Dallell , 64, from Heath Close, a turn off from Rabbit Lane, added: “You do not expect to hear of anything like that happening, it is shocking for the whole community.”

Mr Strong appealed for anyone to come forward who could have seen any activity in the area or who may know who the man is.

Anyone with information should contact him at the major investigation team at Norfolk Police on 0845 456 4567.

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