A man's death is still surrounded in mystery after he walked up to a cathedral and set himself on fire.

Horrified witnesses stood and watched as the man went to the Western Rooms entrance of Liverpool Cathedral carrying a can of petrol and a box of matches.

At about 4pm on October 25, 1995, he ignited himself.

A witness at the time said he uttered a name believed to be "Kenny Williams" in his agonising final moments, LiverpoolEcho reports.

The victim, believed to have been homeless, has never been formally identified despite extensive efforts of police to find out who he was.

This was the e-fit released to the media by Merseyside Police in 1995 (


Merseyside Police)

Last year, documents were obtained by the LiverpoolEcho from the inquest into his death.

The moment he set himself on fire was not witnessed, but moments later smoke was seen rising from the spot where he was engulfed in flames.

Peter McCabe, one of the witnesses, attempted to extinguish the flames, according to the inquest file.

The man was able to tell Mr McCabe some information which he told detectives.

McCabe said the man said he was named "Kenny Williams" and was of "no fixed abode".

Police also spoke to a witness who described how the man had said "look after my wife and kids".

An investigation found no suspicious circumstances and no one was seen to flee the scene.

Detective Sergeant William Sumner told an inquest held on January 23, 1996, how checks were made against both local and national fingerprint records.

Pictures of the man's face were circulated and a photo e-fit was published, but no one came forward.

In a statement to the coroner, he said: "Enquiries have been made with various hostels for the homeless in the Liverpool area; local drug rehabilitation clinics, Department of Social Security, and local doctors and dentist who cater for the homeless, all without success.

"Enquiries made with a local magazine, the 'Big Issue'. which is sold on the streets of Liverpool and caters for the homeless, have also proved negative.

"The only details available are those given by the deceased to the witness Peter McCabe who attempted to extinguish the flames on the body of the deceased.

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"He believes the deceased said his name was 'Kenny Williams' and he was of 'no fixed abode'. From police enquiries, there would appear to be no suspicious circumstances.

"The deceased identity remains a mystery and I would invite you Sir to record his details as an unknown male adult."

The victim was rushed to the Royal Liverpool Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Further details, recorded on the national UK Missing Persons Unit database, reveal the victim was wearing Reebok trainers and had a brown Mohican haircut and blue eyes.

A report by Dr C.P Johnson, a forensic pathologist, outlined the extent of the man's injuries.

He said: "The body is that of a thin white male with extensive variable thickness burns covering at least 90% of his body surface. Only the feet are relatively spared.

"There is extensive charring of the skin and flexion contractures of the limbs are seen. The conjunctiva of both eyes are oedematous. No evidence of trauma is seen."

Toxicology reports revealed no traces of alcohol in the man's bloodstream and a "comprehensive analysis" did not reveal any detectable traces of drugs.

The medical cause of death was recorded as extensive burns and smoke inhalation, while the then coroner, the late Roy Barter MBE, recorded an open verdict.

Merseyside Police say the case is open and the force will investigate any new leads.

Anyone with information which may identify the man to contact Missing Persons at the following link: https://www.missingpersons.police.uk/en-gb/case/03-001341 or Merseyside Police via 101, or our social media desk on Twitter @MerPolCC or Facebook ‘Merseyside Police Contact Centre’.

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