The family of a former carpet cleaner found dead on Mitcham Common paid tribute to a "loving" father at his inquest yesterday.

Adrian Gilbert, of Pear Tree Close in Mitcham, was found dead on the common just after 1pm on Wednesday, November 12.

The 47-year-old's body was found by two tramps in a bed of brambles some distance from the footpath by the junction of Commonside East and Cedars Avenue.

Nov 12: Dead body found on Mitcham Common

Police treated his death as suspicious at first because his body appeared to have been scratched and dragged some distance by a third party.

But further examination by a crime investigation team concluded his body had been moved by a fox and was non-suspicious, the court heard.

Detective Sergeant Adam Bryant, a lead officer in the investigation, said Mr Gilbert's body appeared to have been there for about two days. He said the body was found in an area not normally passed by dog walkers or homeless people.

Mr Gilbert was a former carpet cleaner who was born in Mitcham and grew up in the area. He enjoyed outdoor pursuits and climbed trees and camped on Mitcham Common as a child with his brother Simon, the court head.

Speaking at Westminster Coroner's Court this morning, his sister Julie Gilbert said he started drinking heavily after the death of their mother eight years ago.

It was around this time that he revealed "out of the blue" that he had been assaulted as a child. Mr Gilbert told the police about the alleged abuse but no-one was charged with the historic offence.

Mr Gilbert's alcohol dependency and depression worsened about two years ago after he lost his driving licence, Miss Gilbert told the court. His partner asked him to leave their home in New Addington and he moved in with his sister in Pear Tree Close, Mitcham.

In the year leading up to his death Mr Gilbert was admitted to Croydon Hospital and Wilson Hospital to undergo treatment for his alcohol dependency.

During that period he self-harmed and attempted to commit suicide by over-dosing on ibuprofen as a result of the post-traumatic stress disorder caused by the assault he had suffered as a child, the court heard.

After leaving Wilson Hospital he was much healthier for a short time, but his improved mental and physical health did not last, the inquest was told.

On October 24 he announced to his sister he was leaving to stay with a friend. After Miss Gilbert contacted the friend who said she had not seen Mr Gilbert for a year, she contacted the police and reported him missing on October 30.

He was found dead wearing his hiking boots and lying beside two empty bottles of vodka on Wednesday, November 11.

Delivering a verdict this morning, assistant coroner colonel Darren Stewart OBE said: "I conclude that Mr Gilbert died as a direct result of his alcohol dependency but I also find that at the time of his death he was suffering from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and these are to have been considerable contributing factors to his alcohol dependancy which in turn caused his death."

Speaking after the inquest his brother Simon said: "He's going to be very missed. We are very surprised the way he died. He just wanted justice for the problem he had but he couldn't get it.

"He was a very loving man and we are just grateful that he is in a better place."