DCSIMG

Body found in Malaysian jungle confirmed as that of missing Yorkshire backpacker

Missing Yorkshireman Gareth Huntley

Missing Yorkshireman Gareth Huntley

  • by Mark Casci
 

Police have confirmed a body found in the Malaysian jungle is that of missing British backpacker Gareth Huntley, the Foreign Office said.

Mr Huntley, 34, disappeared on May 27 when he went on a trek to a waterfall on Tioman Island, off the south-eastern coast of the country’s mainland.

A body feared to be that of Mr Huntley was found on Wednesday, close to where he was living.

His mother, Janet Southwell, had given blood to hospital staff so they could carry out a DNA comparison.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “Malaysian police have now confirmed that the body found on Tioman Island is Gareth Huntley.

“The Foreign Office will remain in close contact with the Malaysian authorities and our staff continue to support Gareth’s family at this tragic time.”

The body was found in a pond just yards from a kayak storage shed at the Juara Turtle Project where Mr Huntley had been volunteering.

It was discovered behind a row of cabins used by rescue teams during the search.

The cause of death has not yet been established.

Mr Huntley’s family said “no words can describe the void he will leave” and they were “deeply touched” by the efforts to find him.

In a statement, they said: “We would like to thank everyone who came together in the last week to do everything in their power to help find Gareth. You have been extraordinary and we are deeply touched and deeply grateful.

“There are no words that can capture the devastation we feel right now; no words that can capture the kindness, warmth and spirit that Gareth exuded; no words can describe the void he will leave in all of the lives he touched.

“Gareth lived every minute of his life as fully as he could; never without a smile and always with others in his heart. You will never leave our hearts Gareth.”

A spokesman for Mr Huntley’s family said: “It is with deep regret that we can confirm that Gareth has died. We would kindly ask that the media respects the privacy of the family at this extremely difficult time.”

Pahang state police chief senior deputy commissioner Datuk Sharifuddin Ab Ghani said earlier this week that the body was decomposing and was found clothed in shorts, socks and shoes, but with no shirt.

An iPhone was also found nearby but there was no sign of any personal documentation.

Mr Huntley, of Hackney, east London, who is originally from the Leeds-Bradford border, was on a sabbatical from his job in the City.

His family mounted a high-profile campaign to intensify a search for him after he failed to return from his trek.

Ms Southwell arrived in Malaysia on Monday after Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Malaysia’s prime minister Najib Razak about the search effort.

More than 100 people were involved in the search until the body was found on Wednesday.

 

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