A coroner has returned a narrative verdict on the death of a Bideford pensioner whose body was found in the River Torridge last year, 104 days after he went missing.

Despite hundreds of people joining the search to find widower Clive Colling, 77, when he was reported missing on January 1, 2017, his body wasn’t discovered until April 14, 2017.

By this point, an inquest yesterday (Tuesday) heard his body was too decomposed to provide an accurate conclusion as to how he died.

A post mortem concluded the cause Mr Colling’s death was ‘unascertained’, but the findings were consistent with the body being submerged in cold water for some time.

It also indicated that Mr Colling, who had dementia, had not been ‘living rough’ for any period of time after he was reported missing.

Records showed the retired boat-builder last accessed his bank on December 30 and his neighbour reported him missing to the police on January 1.

Coroner Elizabeth Earland concluded a narrative verdict.

She said: “Shortly after December 30, 2016, Mr Colling, who suffered from dementia, went for a walk and ended up in the River Torridge, where he was found in the mud and water on the East-the-Water side of the jetty near Jesson’s Yard.

“There was no sign of any third party involvement and no suspicious circumstances.”

Mr Colling’s body was found by a canoeist at around 8am, who initially thought it was debris. It was recovered by the coastguard and RNLI.

A statement read to the inquest by Bideford GP Ruth Down said Mr Colling’s late wife used to work as a district nurse at Bideford Medical Centre.

She said: “He will be remembered by us here as a gentleman, devoted to his wife, who always took the time to get to know her colleagues at the surgery.”