POLICE have today relaunched an appeal in a bid to identify a man whose body was found in a farm building near Micheldever in 2017.

Officers searched the disused barn off Bazeley Copse Lane on December 1, 2017, as part of enquiries into an unrelated burglary.

Inside, they found decomposed human remains along with items including a sleeping bag, a rucksack, a Sony Walkman, a Martina Cole novel and a Winchester street atlas, and they are thought to have been there possibly five years.

The appeal, launched with the help of missing person charity Locate International, focuses on southern France, following scientific work done on the remains by the University of Reading.

READ MORE: Police seeking help to solve cold case after remains found in barn

It is believed the man died of natural causes.

In 2019, a public appeal identified witnesses who had met the man in the late summer of 2012. 

The man asked the witnesses if he could camp overnight in their garden in the small village of Itchen Stoke, just over seven miles from where the body was later found. 

They described the man having a French accent who spoke good English. He was white, aged 35 to 50, approximately 5’8’’ tall with brown hair. 

He also told the witnesses he was travelling through England to go on to Ireland or Canada and claimed to have served in the French military when younger. It is possible that he was deaf or hard of hearing in one ear.

Despite this information, and extensive forensic and DNA examinations, police have been unable to identify him.

However, recent Isotope analysis of bone and teeth samples, conducted by geochemist Dr Stuart Black at the University of Reading, suggests that the man likely grew up in either southern or south-eastern France, western Switzerland or the Mediterranean island of Corsica.

The analysis also revealed pollutants indicating he spent his early life in a sizeable town or city and had a marine fish-rich diet.

Using this new information, Locate International, a UK-based charity that looks into the cold cases of missing people and unidentified bodies, has launched an appeal in southern France to solve the case.

Doug Utting, from the serious case review team at Hampshire Constabulary, said: “I would like to thank Locate International and Dr Stuart Black at the University of Reading for all their help so far with this case.

“It seems very likely that this man died very shortly after interacting with the witnesses we have now identified and lay undiscovered for five years.

“Our enquiries have led us to believe that he grew up in southern or south-eastern France, Corsica or western Switzerland. 

“Through this new appeal, I hope we can hear from people in those areas that recognise the man described as someone they may know and who they have not seen or heard from since 2012.”

Dave Grimstead, CEO of Locate International, said: “The key to us solving this mystery seems to lie in France.

“Does he look like anyone you lost contact with? Did you serve with him in the military at any point? Do you remember someone losing their hearing in one ear in this way?

“He died alone, but we want to make sure he is not forgotten after his death. Even just one small piece of information you have can help us identify him.”

Police are encouraging people to call 101 quoting reference 44170467777 with any information.

Alternatively, information can be submitted via hampshire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/cor/tell-us-about-existing-case-report/.