With 28 unexplained deaths on Manchester's waterways, some speculate that one person is responsible for them all. But is there really a serial killer called the Manchester Pusher at large?

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On New Year’s Eve, 2012, the body of Souvik Pal, 18, was found at the bottom of Bridgewater Canal, Manchester. He was just one of 85 people – 72 of them men – who have died in Greater Manchester’s waterways between 2008 and 2014.

In 28 of those cases – Souvik’s included – inquests have recorded an open verdict. This means the cause of death cannot be established. With no answers, speculation began to mount. Was a serial killer stalking Manchester’s canals and rivers, pushing innocent victims in to the icy waters to perish?

As rumours began to spread about the so-called Manchester Pusher, the Twitter hashtag #thepusher went viral. Greater Manchester Police (GMP) denied the claims that one person was responsible for the deaths. But others have continued to believe that the serial killer theory does have merit.

Santanu Pal searches for his son (PA Photos)

Santanu Pal searches for his son (PA Photos)

One of them is Souvik Pal’s father, Santanu. There exists CCTV footage of his son walking with a man on the night of his death, a man whose identity has never been confirmed.

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‘There must be involvement of a third party. It needs to be investigated to find out if there is really a serial killer,’ Pal told a Channel 4 documentary on The Pusher, which aired in January 2016.

Thomas Sheridan, a writer specialising in psychopathy, described how he’d visited Manchester to research the case and was followed by ‘a tall man wearing a hood’ into a poorly lit area of the Rochdale Canal. Could it have been the Manchester Pusher? Sheridan thinks so. ‘I’m convinced foul play is a point concerning some of these bodies,’ he’s said.

GMP continue to deny all claims that a serial killer is at large in Manchester.