A GRIEVING family may never find out how a much-loved dad-of-four ended up dead in the River Wear.
Paul Wilkinson had been missing for more than two weeks when his body was discovered near the Ropery pub.
An inquest, at Sunderland Civic Centre, into the 38-year-old’s death was told no note had been found and it was not known where he had gone into the water.
Speaking after he disappeared, devastated wife Victoria Wilkinson told the Echo how on the morning of Sunday, May 13, Paul left his Marley Pots home, telling his family he was popping to nearby shops.
That was the last time they saw him.
Fears for Paul’s welfare grew after extensive police searches and a number of appeals failed to bring him home.
Weeks before he disappeared, Paul became depressed after losing his job making car parts for Nissan.
He was taking medication for this, which he did not take with him.
Paul, who is dad to 18-month-old Aaron with Victoria and also has three other sons, left behind all of his personal belongings.
Victoria, who married SAFC-mad Paul in August last year, described him as “loving”, “funny” and “kind.”
The hearing was told that due to the length of time Mr Wilkinson had been in the water, DNA profiling had to be used to identify him.
Home Office pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton concluded the probable cause of death was drowning.
A small amount of alcohol was found in his blood, but this could have been affected by changes in the body after death, it was said.
Detective Neil Swainston, of Sunderland CID, was part of the team of officers working on Mr Wilkinson’s disappearance.
He said searches were carried out of the area around the family’s home in Elmwood Avenue, before being widened out to include the River Wear and quarries.
A member of the public found his body on May 29.
Coroner Derek Winter said: “Police have not been able to establish the point of entrance into the river, and there is no evidence of how he came to be in the river.”
He added that he was left with no option regarding the verdict to be recorded.