Wednesday 18 October 2017

Backpacker's family in DNA wait

The mother of missing Gareth Huntley has reportedly given Malaysian police a DNA sample after a body was found in the jungle
The mother of missing Gareth Huntley has reportedly given Malaysian police a DNA sample after a body was found in the jungle

The family of a British backpacker who went missing in the Malaysian jungle are facing an agonising wait for the results of tests on a body found on an island.

Gareth 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, has given blood to hospital staff so they can carry out a DNA comparison.

Pahang state police chief Senior Deputy Commissoner Datuk Sharifuddin Ab Ghani said: " We've already sent the blood sample for the DNA test, and we'll be getting the results of the test within the next two days from the relevant departments."

He said the post-mortem examination did not find a cause of death.

The body was found on Wednesday 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.

Mr Sharifuddin told the Daily Telegraph 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.

The officer said: "The cause of death is still undetermined, hence this case is still classified as sudden death at this stage, although we can't rule out any possibilities of foul play."

He added that there did not appear to be any visible wounds and the body did not look like that of a Malay.

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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