British backpacker 'had his throat cut in fight' claim Malaysian tour guides as his family speak of their devastation
- Claims that 34-year-old may have been involved in a fight and murdered
- Some local tour guides allege that his throat had been cut
- His distraught family say no words can describe 'void' he has left
- DNA results provided confirmation body found was the missing backpacker
- Mother Janet Southwell had given her own DNA to help identify him
- He went missing last Tuesday after hiking to visit a waterfall
- Discovered near Juara Turtle Project where 34-year-old had been working
Police in Malaysia are investigating claims that British backpacker Gareth Huntley may have been murdered in a fight, it has been reported.
The 34-year-old of Hackney in east London, had not been seen since going trekking on Tioman Island last Tuesday.
On Wednesday, a body was found beside a kayak storage unit near the Juara Turtle Project, where he was last seen.
Malaysian police are said to be investigating claims Mr Huntley, right, could have been murdered. His mother, Janet Southwell, left, gave her own DNA to help in the identification process after his body was found and saya no words can describe the void left by him
Arrival: Gareth Huntley's mother Janet Southwell, (centre) who arrived in Malaysia on Monday was pictured on Friday outside the Forensic Unit at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan with Mr Huntley's girlfriend Kit Natariga (left)
Discovery: Malaysian rescue workers prepare to load a body onto an Air Force helicopter on Tioman Island - it has been confirmed it is Mr Huntley
Yesterday, following DNA tests, it was confirmed that the body was that of Mr Huntley, who worked as an accountant.
According to the Telegraph, detectives have said they are investigating claims that he was involved in a fight before he disappeared and could have been murdered.
There are also said to be claims by local tour guides that his throat had been slit but police did not confirm the claim.
Owner of a bistro, Ab Razib Ali Awang, told the newspaper that most people in the local area think something sinister had happened to the backpacker.
He said: I’m not sure if the project [people] are making a false report or maybe not telling the police everything.
Hunt: Rescuers had been scouring the area in the hope of finding Mr Huntley for days
He was found on Wednesday near a kayak storage unit near the Juara Turtle Project where the 34-year-old had been working, according to local reports
A search party consisting of commandos, police and firefighters stumbled across the body when they were returning to the base camp earlier this week
The body was found behind a row of cabins which were occupied by rescue operators over the last three days
'There are rumours that there was a fight before with a foreigner.'
But it has reportedly been denied that there had been any fight or conflict at the turtle project.
The claims come as Mr Huntley's distraught family spoke of their devastation after it was confirmed that a body found on Wednesday was his.
In a statement they said: '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.'
His mother Janet Southwell, arrived in Malaysia on Monday and was pictured on Friday outside the Forensic Unit at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan with Mr Huntley's girlfriend Kit Natariga.
Mrs Southwell travelled to Malaysia with Miss Natariga almost a week ago to press the authorities into finding him.
Police closed off the road leading to the sanctuary after the discovery
Mr Huntley's family and friends had feared there was a lack of action to find the backpacker in spite of the public response so started their own search
His mother, Janet Southwell, arrived in Malaysia on Monday after Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to Malaysia's prime minister Najib Razak about the search effort
Gareth Huntley and his girlfriend Kit Natariga. She said her boyfriend was an experienced backpacker and adventurer who would take utmost care in ensuring he was prepared for excursions
She broke down in tears and ran to her cabin a short distance away when news of the body’s discovery was broken to her by Deputy Police Superintendent Johari Yahaya.
Before the positive identification, she had told of how she was staying positive in the hope that she would be the ‘friendly face’ her son needed when he came out of the jungle.
Search teams, made up of commandos, police and Fire and Rescue Department specialists accompanied by sniffer dogs had spent days searching the jungle for the missing Englishman.
But the hunt took a dramatic turn when a search team returned to the conservation headquarters where they had spent three nights.
Search: Gareth Huntley's mother Janet Southwell, had taken part in search effort for her son at Juara village on Tioman Island before he was found
Kit Natariga also headed to Tioman Island to join the search for her boyfriend Gareth (left)
They unexpectedly saw the badly decomposed body floating face up in the Mentawak River.
Dressed in a T-shirt, shorts and shoes, it was just behind a row of cabins being occupied by the rescue teams.
With his body being found within the confines of the conservation headquarters, police are questioning whether he even managed to reach the start of the jungle path before tragedy struck in some way.
They are also looking at the possibility that Mr Huntley did reach the waterfall and plunged into the river on his return.
A further line of inquiry will be whether he went into the water further upstream and his body was then carried to where it was found.
Members of Malaysia's Fire and Rescue Team preparing to depart from the Tanjung Gemok Ferry Terminal for the search and rescue operation
Earlier this week Malaysian authorities insisted they were committed to finding the Briton who went missing on the popular resort whose body was found on Wednesday
A picture of Tioman Island - where the Briton was last seen. His body was found on the island on Wednesday