Open verdict recorded at inquest into death of Stamford man Robert Carroll

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The cause of death of a man whose remains were found six years after he went missing may never be found, an inquest has heard.

Robert Carroll was 40 when he disappeared from his home in Belton Gardens, Stamford, in February 2006.

His remains were found in a ditch at Hunter’s Hill, near Pilsgate, by a dog walker on September 17 last year.

An inquest into his death at Peterborough Town Hall today (Tuesday) heard from forensic anthropologist Caroline Sims, who examined Mr Carroll’s skeleton.

She said the body had been lying in a ditch.

Miss Sims said there were evidence of fractures and bony growths on Mr Carroll’s upper body, but these were consistent with the effects of impact sports. Mr Carroll had been a keen rugby player.

Miss Sims said there was no indication of foul play in Mr Carroll’s death. She added: “He may have just been out for a walk. He was not in the best of health and might not have realised he had come down with hypothermia.

“It looked almost like he had just got into bed.”

Coroner David Heming also read a statement from Mr Carroll’s elder sister Jane Stockdale.

The statement, taken on November 15 last year, said Mr Carroll had struggled with alcohol problems for much of his adult life.

Mr Carroll, known as Robbie to friends and family, graduated with a French and Italian degree at Corpus Christi college at Cambridge University.

He started a post-graduate course at the university researching Italian poet Dante.

His sister’s statement said Mr Carroll was a popular student and well thought of by his professor but began drinking as he struggled to complete his thesis.

The inquest heard he took several lecturer positions in different cities while trying to complete his thesis, but each time drinking got the better of him.

Mr Carroll was then rocked by two tragedies. His mother Glynis was diagnosed with cancer in 1997 and his father Roy died suddenly in 1998.

He moved to Stamford to live with his mother but her cancer was deemed untreatable in 2002 and she died in 2005.

The inquest heard Mr Carroll’s drinking problems escalated and he began suffering from depression. In February 2006 he phoned his sister to say he had sought professional help but was not prepared to acknowledge his alcoholism.

Not long after that Mr Carroll was reported missing and it was not until six years later his remains were found.

Mr Heming recorded an open verdict. He said: “How he died sadly remains something of a mystery.”