POLICE are still investigating the death of a man found with head injuries outside a caravan after an inquest reached an open verdict.

Sam Garcia, 26, was found dead outside the caravan at Bullers Farm, Clockhouse Road, Little Burstead, at 3.50am on May 6, last year.

On Wednesday, the coroner Eleanor McGann, recorded an open verdict into Mr Garcia’s death after hearing evidence that he had died from head injuries and could have been alive for up to an hour after suffering the trauma.

Three people, including Mr Garcia’s girlfriend Laura Cresswell, 35, were with him when he suffered the injuries.

Speaking after the inquest, Det Chief Insp Mark Hall said: “This was recorded as a murder investigation and remains such. There are still facts relating to the death of Samuel Garcia that remain unexplained and we would like to hear from anyone with any information about how he died.”

Mr Garcia, Miss Cresswell and her brothers Lee, 30, and Darren Matthews, 31, went to the farm at around 5pm the previous day before spending the night drinking.

The inquest heard Miss Cresswell and Mr Garcia had a drunken argument before he smashed up the caravan, threw a kettle at her then left the caravan.

The three maintained he was then found on his back outside and they called the ambulance service.

More than 100 objects found near the scene were sent for forensic analysis, but no murder weapon or hard surface he could have fallen on was traced.

A fleck of white paint was found near an injury above Mr Garcia’s eye, but despite chemical paint analysis on an array of objects, including a white chair leg, the source was never established.

A broken kettle was found inside the caravan, but there was no blood on it, although Mr Garcia’s blood was found on the inside of the caravan door, which showed signs of damage.

Pathologist Dr Benjamin Swift found bruising on top of the head, both sides, at the back, and on the knuckles and arms.

There was a 12cm depressed fracture on the left side and brain swelling.

He said: “The pattern meant it had not all resulted from a single fall.

“Bruising to the brain was consistent with a direct impact.

In the majority of cases depressed skull fractures are the result of blunt force impact.”

Miss Cresswell, from East Ham, and the Matthews brothers, from Canning Town, were arrested on suspicion of murder, but released from bail without charge after a year-long investigation.

Anyone with information about what happened to Mr Garcia can call Essex Police on 101 or contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.