An inquest has been opened into the tragic death of a Sunderland dad whose body was found at a recycling site after a Christmas night out.
James Ryan McLaren - known as Jay - was found on the night of Christmas Eve.
The 28-year-old, from Hadleigh Road, off Hylton Road, had last been seen in Park Lane on a night out.
Police believe he may have got into a bin after spending the evening in the city centre with his team mates from Kings Arms FC.
He was reported missing by his family on Saturday, December 23, after he failed to return home.
An inquest into his death was opened at Sunderland Coroner's Court this morning.
Coroner Derek Winter said: "The body of Mr McLaren was found on Sunday, the 24th of December, at Sedgeletch Industrial Estate, where it appears he had been uplifted by a waste disposal lorry.
"The police are currently investigating, as are the Health and Safety Executive.
"The stepfather of the deceased formally identified his body on the 27th of December."
Home Office pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton had carried out a post-mortem examination on Boxing Day, said Mr Winter, but added 'a precise cause of death is yet to be ascertained.'
Formally opening and adjourning the hearing, Mr Winter said: "I am satisfied I have reasonable cause to conclude that the death of Mr McLaren was unnatural and, as such, it is necessary to have an inquest as part of my investigation."
The hearing was adjourned until June 21 at 10am.
A GoFundMe page set up by Jay's team mates has now raised more than £2,000. It will be used to support his family, including his fiance and two-year-old daughter.
Police have said it is believed there is no third party involvement in Jay's death, but have asked for anyone who can help piece together his last movements to get in touch.
The last time he was seen was at 4.15am on Saturday, December 23, outside the Arizona and Purple bar in Park Lane. From there, he is understood to have been taken to the recycling plant after entering a bin that was later collected in the early hours of that day.
Northumbria Police, which is being supported in its inquiries by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), has said Jay’s family are being supported by specialist officers.
A HSE spokesperson said: "HSE is aware of the incident and inspectors have attended the site with Northumbria Police officers.
"We are continuing to assist them with their inquiries."
Anyone who believes they may have seen or spoken to Jay in the early hours of Saturday, December 23, 2017 should contact police on 101 quoting 1205 231217.
*Jay was a keen footballer and played with the King's Arms in the Sunderland Sunday League.
League bosses have asked clubs to hold a minute's silence or applause in his memory before this weekend's games.