POLICE in Manchester are investigating if the body of an elderly man found near a reservoir in Oldham is that of a missing Northern Irishman.
The man, who has yet to be identified, was discovered in treacherous conditions on Saddleworth Moor, in the north of England on Saturday, December 12.
His body lay on the Chew walking trail, which leads from Dovestones Reservoir boating lake to Indians Head.
Greater Manchester Police are exploring the possibility that the body could be that of Newry man Hugh Toner, who disappeared from Craigavon Area Hospital in 1994.
His family provided a DNA sample in an attempt to establish if the body was his.
The elderly man who died in Manchester had travelled over 200 miles from London to Saddleworth Moor before walking up an extremely remote route, used by walkers, engineers and rangers for the park.
He did not have any identification on him, but he did have cash in his pocket and three train tickets.
One was from Ealing train station to London’s Euston station, which was bought at 9.04am from the ticket office on Friday, December 11.
The other tickets were a return from Euston station to Manchester’s Piccadilly station, bought at 9.50am the same day.
Police said they were keeping an open mind on the identity of the deceased man.
Det Sgt John Coleman said: “We are investigating many possible avenues, one of which is missing persons. With that in mind we have requested DNA samples from the family of Mr Hugh Toner.
“There is a resemblance between him and the man whose death we are currently investigating and they will allow us to either eliminate him from our enquiries or identify him.”
Police previously released CCTV footage of the man, which shows him arriving at Manchester Piccadilly train station on December 11.
He was described as being white, of slim build, had a receding hairline with grey hair to the side and back, had a large nose which may have been previously broken and was clean shaven.
On the day he went missing he wore a brown heavy jacket, blue jumper, white long sleeve shirt, blue corduroy trousers and black slip on shoes.
Anyone who recognises this man or with information should phone police on 0161 856 8972 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.