The family of former Bradford man Gareth Huntley, whose body was found in the Malaysian jungle, have paid an emotional tribute to him.
The Foreign Office confirmed at the weekend that Malaysian police had identified a body found close to where he had been living on Tioman Island as that of 34-year-old Mr Huntley.
Unconfirmed reports suggest that Malaysian detectives are treating his death as suspicious amid speculation that he was found with his throat cut.
The former pupil of Woodhouse Grove School in Apperley Bridge went missing on May 27 when he went on a trek to a waterfall. The wildlife volunteer had been helping to monitor the welfare of sea turtles.
His body was found on Wednesday but was only identified after his Bradford mother, Janet Southwell, who had travelled to the island, gave blood to hospital staff so a DNA comparison could be carried out.
In a statement, Mr Huntley’s family 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.”
Mr Huntley’s body was found in a pond only a short distance from a kayak storage shed at the Juara Turtle Project where he had been volunteering. An iPhone was found nearby but there was no sign of any personal documentation.
Last night a cause of death had yet to be established.
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.”
Mr Huntley was on a sabbatical from his job in the City of London. His family mounted a campaign to intensify the search for him after he failed to return.