THE cause of a Bacup man’s death may never be known because his body was so badly decomposed when he was found, an inquest heard.

Father-of-four Heath Nield’s severed leg was discovered by a dog walker on September 21 last year - 72 days after he was last seen with friends at a house party.


East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor told Burnley Coroner’s Court that a medical explanation for the 31-year-old’s death was ‘unascertainable’.

Mr Nield, of Rochdale Road, was drinking at a friend’s house in Hill Top, Whitworth, on July 11, but failed to return home after leaving the party at 7am.

Sgt Jim Astin, from Burnley police, said revellers told him that Mr Nield was under the influence of alcohol, and possibly cocaine, prior to his arrival in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Taylor heard the joiner was prescribed anti-depressants in 2013 for ‘bouts of depression’, and had gone missing for another two-day period in July 2014.

But the coroner said there was no clear evidence Mr Nield had taken his own life.

His body was found on land off Ending Rake, behind Healey Conservative Club.

Dr Phillip Lunn, a Home Office pathologist, said: “There was no evidence of any medical disease. The problem is that most of the main organs had disappeared in their entirety.

“I couldn’t examine the heart or lungs. The cause of death could lie within them and I can’t asses them at all. We couldn’t do histopathology or toxicology tests because of the decomposition.”

Mr Nield’s mother, Christine Mitton, said she did not report him missing until July 22 as he often stayed over with friends.

Recording an open conclusion, Mr Taylor said: “Maybe he did fall. Maybe he was overcome by drink and drugs. Unfortunately, we will never know.”

After the hearing, Ms Mitton said: “I’m really grateful for everyone who helped look for Heath, especially Sgt Jim Astin.”