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The first evidence of a “Manchester Pusher” stalking the city’s waterways emerged last week when a cyclist was knocked into a canal at night and then kicked back in when he tried to save himself from drowning.
His assailant stole nothing and ran off, leaving the victim in no doubt that longstanding rumours of a pusher have a basis in fact. The theory was prompted by the high number of deaths in the city’s waterways, but was assumed until now to be an urban myth.
The victim, a father of two from an affluent area who was tracked down by The Sunday Times and asked not to be identified, said: “He was a complete psychopath. Even when I went in, he tried to stop me getting back out. He didn’t try to steal anything.
“It was 10pm. I was working the late shift and coming home late. I saw a man out of the corner of my eye and he swung his arm and it caught me on my neck. I went into the canal along with my bicycle and my backpack on my back, which immediately started filling with water, weighing me down.
I was underwater with my legs twisted in the bike. I managed to get above water and tried to get a grip on the side of the canal, where it was slippery and mossy. That’s when he kicked my hands away, which made me slip back under the water again. When I came back up, he was gone. I saw him running away. I managed to get out of the canal. It was pitch black: there are no lights or barriers along that stretch; nothing. My mobile phone wasn’t working because I went into the canal. I walked to PureGym in Stretford and called 999.”
At least 76 corpses have been discovered in the waters of Greater Manchester since 2007. Seventeen of the deaths are classed as “unexplained”, meaning neither the police nor a coroner was able to determine how the person died.