updated 7/20/2007 11:01:14 PM ET 2007-07-21T03:01:14

A fisherman found part of a skull belonging to a missing friend while fishing in the North Sea, police said.

Barry Hunter picked the skull fragment out of his net in December while trawling near the mouth of the River Tyne, about 280 miles north of London, Northumbria police said in a statement.

Hunter turned the bone over to authorities, and forensic tests confirmed that it belonged to Brian Allison, one of two fellow fishermen who disappeared when their trawler sank during rough weather in the area on Nov. 17, 2004.

Police said Hunter and Allison were friends, but did not elaborate.

Allison and his brother Robert Temple were the only two occupants of the boat when it sank. The wreckage was later discovered, but Temple's body has never been found.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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