29 Nov 2011

Ruling by coroner on fate of missing man

10:14 pm on 29 November 2011

A coroner has ruled on the death of a Hawke's Bay man who was last seen a decade ago.

Philip Cowan, 26, disappeared after a visit to Wellington from 19-25 March in 2001.

Police became aware of Mr Cowan's disappearance about two months later. Investigations revealed he was growing and dealing cannabis.

Police believed he was selling cannabis to a person in Wellington while there for a farewell party.

Mr Cowan's car was found abandoned in Bulls about a week later.

Three men were charged with his murder, but at a trial in 2003 the judge ruled the evidence put forward could not be relied upon for a jury to convict.

The accused were discharged.

Coroner Gary Evans has ruled that Mr Cowan died at the hands of a person or persons unknown and his body was either destroyed or lost.