A Wigan dad found dead more than six weeks after going missing had drowned in a pond, an inquest heard.
Paul Bullough’s body was found in the Red Pond in Worsley Mesnes on February 11, having gone missing from his home on Boxing Day following an argument with his partner.
Despite numerous police searches and emotional pleas from his family for his safe return, his body was found floating in the water by a member of the public on a morning walk around the pond.
He had taken a mixture of cocaine and heroin at the time of his disappearance, and the decomposing state of his body suggested he had been dead for some time before he was found.
In an inquest at Bolton Coroners Court, the 39-year-old’s cause of death was confirmed as drowning, but Coroner Alan Walsh reached a narrative conclusion, stating that it was remained “unclear” whether the father-of-two intended to take his own life.
Mr Bullough was last seen alive on the evening of December 26 by his partner and mother of his two children, Jo Stevenson, at their home in Kitt Green.
Miss Stevenson, who attended the inquest with her mother, said that she and Mr Bullough had had an argument, which resulted in Mr Bullough damaging the back door and storming off from the property.
He later sent her a text message saying “You’ll never see me again,” and sent another later that night saying he was at the Red Pond, approximately a 20 minute walk from their home.
It would be the last time Mr Bullough would be heard from.
Miss Stevenson contacted the police to report him missing the next day, December 27.
Despite suffering from depression, it was not unusual for him to leave the home after an argument but would always return, she said.
“I can’t understand. I thought he would calm down and come back,” she told the coroner.
She added: “In the 25 minutes it took him to get there, he should have come to his senses.”
His phone and passport were found by the waterside that day, close to where his body would eventually be discovered.
Numerous underwater searches of the pond were carried out by police, but somehow found no trace of the missing father.
It was not until February 11, around noon, when a man walking around the pond with his family spotted a torso in the water.
He immediately called police, who attended the scene and found his body.
They identified Mr Bullough through his distinctive chest tattoo, which bore the name of one of his children, and the clothing which he had been wearing at the time of his disappearance.
A post-mortem found traces of heroin in his system, and he had three bottles of methadone in his pocket.
Mr Walsh told Miss Stevenson: “I am very sorry for your children, who now have no father.
“It is difficult to understand what was in his mind.”