A GAMEKEEPER whose body was discovered near building works in Weymouth died from a gunshot wound to the head, an inquest was told.

Nicholas Crocker’s remains were found by workmen a few hundred yards from his home, in undergrowth behind a building site at Weymouth Gateway, on January 17.

The 56-year-old had been missing for around four months and was last seen on September 21 at his family home in Dorchester Road.

He left home in possession of a licensed handgun the day after police officers came to his house enquiring about a minor theft, said West Dorset Coroner Michael Johnston .

He said: “Police made extensive enquiries to locate Mr Crocker, searching farmland and the area around his home. Everything had gone quiet until January when workmen in Mercury Road found a human body, practically a skeleton.

“Personal items belonging to Mr Crocker were found on the body and dental records were used to identify him.”

Detective Inspector Stewart Dipple said there was no evidence in the case to suggest a third party had been involved in the death.

Speaking at the inquest he said: “When Nicholas Crocker was reported missing we were very concerned for him, that he might do harm to himself.

“The body was lying on its front with the right arm tucked under the stomach and chest area.

“We found a small pistol in the right hand, it had rusted and deteriorated.

“The location of the body and the circumstances of Mr Crocker going missing, his distressed and anxious state, led me to believe that he came to that location unfortunately to self-harm.”

A pathologist’s report stated there was evidence of a single gunshot wound to the head which was the cause of death.

Mr Johnston recorded a narrative verdict, he said: “There is no evidence or note to say he took his own life.

“The cause of death was a gunshot wound to the head but there is no evidence to show how he came to be shot.”