A TEN-YEAR-OLD girl discovered the body of a missing man across a field from where he lived after police had failed to find him for more than three months.

Nearly thirty officers, lowland rescue dogs and a helicopter search team were dispatched to Bramber following news of Michael Mauger’s disappearance in early July.

But neighbours told The Argus that police said they could not search waterways, were the body was found, despite Mr Mauger having told friends that he had twice attempted suicide in the river in the weeks before his disappearance.

The young children of Katie Gunning, a Radio 2 producer, found the body in a weed-covered drainage ditch on Sunday, October 4, on a cycling trip along the Downs Link cycle path.

Mrs Gunning said her children stopped by a bridge and her ten-year-old daughter said: “Mummy we think there’s a body in there.”

Mr Mauger, known to his friends as Mike, was last seen in Bramber, where he had lived for eighteen years, on June 27.

His friends told how he attended Nottingham University in his youth and worked as an editor on the BBC’s Panorama programme in London in the 1970s.

And his daughter Shanti Mauger, a district judge, paid tribute to her father as “a warm-hearted and gregarious man, who used to scatter poppy seeds as he walked, so that there would be flowers for people to enjoy by the side of the road.”

A very spiritual man, Mr Mauger had spent time in an ashram in India, and could often be seen doing yoga and helping with his neighbours’ gardening in the quiet bungalow development where he lived.

Mr Mauger had suffered with depression for many years of late, and told his close friend and neighbour Maggie Taylor that he “didn’t want to be here any more.”

Mrs Taylor said: ““He was tired, he was struggling with depression all the time. But he was determined not to take any medicine, I think he was very brave.”

Mrs Taylor said that when she spoke to Mr Mauger in the days before his disappearance, he told her that he had twice recently come close to committing suicide but had changed his mind.

A post mortem has been conducted and police are not treating the death as suspicious.

An inquest is to be held.

A memorial and funeral service on a nearby burial ground is being planned by friends for November 6.