An alcoholic whose headless body was found floating in a river might have been pushed into the water, a court heard this morning.

Police said it would never be known what led to the death of Waldemar Drobig, whose corpse was pulled from the river Wandle in Wimbledon - but foul play could not be ruled out.

Westminster Coroner's Court heard workmen clearing Japanese Knotwood from the river had stumbled across what they first thought to be a dead animal on the morning June 7 last year, after noticing a foul smell at a stretch of water near Plough Lane.

But they realised the maggot-ridden object snagged on tree branches was human remains when they noticed a belt buckle and other clothing around it.

The headless corpse was taken from the water by police diving teams, but could not be identified because of its decomposed state.

A hand was later removed from it in the hope it could provide usable fingerprints, but this proved impossible.

Eventually DNA samples taken from the remains were matched with a DNA profile of Mr Drobig.

On Thursday the court heard the 32-year-old, a husband and father of one from Sunechow in Poland, had moved to Britain to find work but became homeless. He was known to the police as a street drinker and petty criminal, and had last come to their attention four months before the body was found.

Coroner Dr Shirley Radcliffe said: “He may have been drunk and fallen in or been pushed in.” Detective inspector Chuks Gwam, of Merton police, who investigated the case, said: “We will never know.”

Dr Radcliffe said: “This is another sad case of a young man who has died, probably as a result of alcohol - but unfortunately we have not sufficient evidence to say that is the case.”

She recorded an open verdict.

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