The body of a pensioner missing for three months could have been found earlier if her body hadn’t been mistaken for an inflatable doll.
Gloria Stringer turned 82 while police and frantic family members searched for her after she vanished from her home on New Year’s Day.
Police were called to a property on March 30, after a homeowner noticed her body at the foot of his garden after carrying out ground maintenance.
During an inquest opening a coroner was told the retired housewife had originally been misidentified in February as a “dummy”.
Kelly Upshon, coroner’s court usher, said: “Mrs Stringer was a rambler and despite her age she was described as active.
“She was known to have walked ten miles and was previously found in Leybourne.
“Her body was located in the garden of a property as a result of garden maintenance.
“The resident noticed what they thought was a dummy or doll in February.
“He did not know it was a body at this time.
“Police attended the location and initially there were thoughts it might be a missing person.”
A watch and a hospital bracelet were found on Mrs Stringer’s body while the clothing she had on at the time matched with the missing person record.
Mrs Stringer was last seen at around 10.30pm near her home in Hollingbourne, Kent, on January 1 and her disappearance sparked a mass search.
Her body was found by police on Friday, March 30, at around 11.55am and police said her death was being treated as “unexplained” but not suspicious.
At the time police said her death was being treated as unexplained but not suspicious.
Mrs Stringer had been seen in the grounds of the Tudor Park Hotel before she vanished and is believed to have been seen down a dirt track nearby.
One theory held by Kent’s Search and Rescue team is that Mrs Stringer was caught in the harsh conditions of storm Eleanor and sought shelter while out walking.
The initial cause of death was given as “unascertained” during the opening of Mrs Stringer’s inquest, which was adjourned until Monday, July 9.