UK & World News

  • 8 June 2014, 14:37

Gareth Huntley: Fight Claims Investigated

Police in Malaysia are reportedly looking into claims that British backpacker Gareth Huntley could have been murdered.

The 34-year-old, from Hackney, east London, disappeared on Malaysia's Tioman Island on May 27 after going on a jungle trek.

It was initially suspected that Mr Huntleygot lost in the dense jungle, although the location where his body was found has put that theory in doubt.

His body was discovered less than 100m from the sea turtle conservation camp where he worked as a volunteer.

According to The Sunday Telegraph Malaysian police arelooking into reports that he was involved in a fight shortly before his death.

It said they are now investigating locals' claims that he was murdered.

Tour guides on the island have reported that Mr Huntley's throat had been slit.

Meanwhile, Mr Huntley's family said "no words can describe the void he will leave".

And they thanked "everyone who came together in the last week to do everything in their power to help find Gareth".

Search personnel reportedly discovered the body in a pond close to a kayak storage unit at around 12pm local time on Wednesday.

Zakaria Ahmad, head of crime investigation in the eastern state of Pahang, said DNA tests confirmed the body was that of the Briton.

The cause of death has not yet been established.

Mr Huntley disappeared after trying to find a waterfall nearly four miles away from the camp in the jungles of the paradise island.

He told friends at the turtle project he would be back by 2pm but failed to return.

His mother, Janet Southwell, and girlfriend, Kit Natariga, had travelled to the island off Malaysia's east coast to help with the search effort.

The family statement added: "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 that 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."

Search teams were backed by paramilitary commandos, multiple helicopters, speedboats and sniffer dogs in the latter days of the hunt following initial criticism of the Malaysian authorities' response.

Prime Minister David Cameron reportedly spoke to Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak after receiving an open letter from Mrs Southwell in which she urged him to seek more resources for the search.

Mr Huntley, who was originally from West Yorkshire, was on a sabbatical from his job in the City.

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