A SHROPSHIRE MAN whose naked body was found near a canal, sparking a major police investigation, died accidentally, an inquest heard today.
Kevin Kirkland was spotted by a passer-by at the end of Newport canal on December 30 last year, just hours after he had left friends during a night out in the town.
A police investigation was launched and Mr Kirkland's death was originally treated as unexplained.
The inquest held at Telford Magistrates' Court heard the 44-year-old, who lived alone in Newport, was found tied to a tree.
He died at the town's Princess Royal Hospital of hypothermia, the inquest was told. Mr John Ellery, coroner for Telford & Wrekin, recorded a verdict of accidental death.
He said: "After hearing all the evidence I do come to the conclusion that there was no third-party involvement and it was Kevin Kirkland who tied himself to the tree.
"I do not believe that it could have been an accident that he put the slip knot around the tree. That must have been deliberate."
Mr Ellery added: "He had everything going for himself and was enjoying his life. It is clear to me that having put himself in that position he could not get out of it."
Dr Alexander Kolar, Home Office pathologist, said Mr Kirkland died of hypothermia and blood loss.
After the inquest Mr Kirkland's family, said in a statement: "His presence and his smiling face will be sadly missed by all of us, including his many friends.
"His death has left a huge gap in our lives and he will be in our hearts and thoughts always."
By Jason Lavan