West Hampstead actor lay dead and undiscovered in woods for 15 months

The body of Richard Gent was discovered on July 2.

The body of Richard Gent was discovered on July 2. - Credit: Archant

A young actor who went missing last year is believed to have lay dead and undiscovered in woodland near his West Hampstead home for nearly 15 months.

Richard Gent pictured with his younger sister Lindsay

Richard Gent pictured with his younger sister Lindsay - Credit: Archant

The body of Richard Gent, who played cameo roles in TV dramas including Casualty, Teachers, Mistresses, and hit Dr Who spin-off series Torchwood, was discovered in woodland off Claremont Road, in Cricklewood, in the early hours of July 2.

He had not been seen since leaving his home in Ravenshaw Road, West Hampstead, on April 21 last year.

Following his disappearance, Mr Gent’s family and friends tried desperately to trace him with appeals nationwide – including a plea in the Ham&High last year.

His mother Alison, 53, insists she never gave up hope of finding her son alive.

She said: “We had never given up hope of finding Richard, we were still searching. The search is now over, he is not with us any more.

“It transpires that Richard had ended his life as soon as he went missing, but was not found.

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“He was eventually found by some Romanian travellers who had been exploring the area. He may never have been found otherwise.

“We believe, from what the police have said, that he was hidden from view.”

Mr Gent, who was 27 at the time of his disappearance, had moved to London from his family home in Chippenham, Wiltshire, to pursue an acting career three years before his death.

Having appeared in several TV shows, Mr Gent also worked in a call centre in Acton to support his acting ambitions, but had been under pressure in the months leading up to his death, according to his mother.

“An actor’s life is up and down and it’s stressful, constantly going to auditions,” she said.

“It goes with the job – the insecurity around that profession – and Richard did have financial problems. We had tried to persuade him to come home.”

In the wake of Mr Gent’s death, his family are set to start an acting scholarship in his name at The Rondo Theatre, in Bath, where the young actor had previously worked.

Mr Gent’s funeral will be held next month and the family have asked those due to attend to donate to charity Missing People, which provided support throughout the family’s ordeal, instead of bringing flowers.

“We would like to say thank you for the support of family and friends and even strangers who put up posters at Tube stations and all over London for us,” said his mother.

“Richard was a loving son and brother. We were so proud of his acting achievements, which have given us lovely memories to treasure when we feel able to watch them again.”

Mr Gent leaves behind his mother, father Barry, 60, and younger sister, Lindsay, 25.

An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned at Barnet Coroner’s Court on July 8.

The provisional cause of death was recorded as hanging.