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Last Updated: Wednesday, 22 December, 2004, 19:50 GMT
Man 'may have died from fright'
Stephen Prudhoe
Mr Prudhoe had a daughter he had not seen for 14 years
A man whose genitals were cut off during a murder may have died from fright, an inquest has heard.

Stephen Prudhoe's mutilated body was found in March at his home in Blacon, near Chester.

Pathologist Dr Brian Rogers told the inquest in Chester he had looked into a police theory that Mr Prudhoe's private parts were eaten by his dog.

But he was found fully-clothed with his trouser zip closed, Dr Rogers added. The coroner recorded an open verdict.

He had a very bad heart, he could well have just died by being frightened to death
Dr Brian Rogers, pathologist
He said he believed Mr Prudhoe's genitals were removed with a knife after his death but said it was impossible to tell what had killed him.

A post mortem examination revealed he suffered from severe pneumonia and had heart disease, but did not establish whether these had caused his death.

Dr Rogers added: "Whoever was with him in the house may have threatened to mutilate him.

"He had a very bad heart, he could well have just died by being frightened to death."

'True gentleman'

The pathologist said he had ruled out the possibility that Mr Prudhoe had inflicted the injuries on himself, as no knife was found near to the body.

He added: "I do not think any normal person could do that to themselves."

The inquest heard Mr Prudhoe had suffered depression and begun drinking heavily after his father died eight years ago.

He was described as a loner and had a daughter from a previous relationship, who he had not seen for 14 years.

Neighbours described him as friendly, kind and a "true gentleman" who was devoted to his dog, Milo, and enjoyed listening to rock music.

Det Ch Insp Andrew Marsden, of Cheshire Constabulary, said a 10,000 reward had been offered for information about Mr Prudhoe's killer.

He said the missing genitalia had never been recovered, adding: "Somebody out there knows or has an inkling who did this."

Deputy Coroner for Cheshire, Dr Janet Napier, recording an open verdict, said: "Whether he died from fright, from the effects of extreme fear we do not know."

She added: "Somebody has done this to him but luckily it seems to have happened after death."

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