Malaysia backpacker Gareth Huntley: Police discount fight reports

  • 9 June 2014
  • From the section London
Gareth Huntley
Image caption Gareth Huntley's decomposing body was found in a pond

Malaysian police have denied a British backpacker was involved in a fight before he went missing in the jungle.

Gareth Huntley's body was found on Tioman Island on 4 June, eight days after he was believed to have gone on a trek to a waterfall.

There were reports Mr Huntley, from Cricklewood, north London, was murdered.

But Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Mohd Zakaria Ahmad told the Malaysia Star the claims were "inaccurate".

Image caption Gareth Huntley's mother Janet Southwell provided a DNA sample

He told the newspaper: "I was in Pulau Tioman on Saturday and I interviewed several witnesses myself.

"What they told me contradicts what the foreign reporter wrote. That report is inaccurate."

He said police were not ruling out foul play but said the investigation was in its early days.

A post-mortem examination had revealed no external injuries and the cause of death had not yet been established, he added.

Image caption About 100 people joined the search in the jungles of Tioman Island

The 34-year-old's body was discovered in a pond within 300ft (91m) of the Juara Turtle project, where he had been living and working as a volunteer.

After his body had been identified through DNA testing, a family spokesman 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 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."

The local police chief, senior deputy commissioner Datuk Sharifuddin Ab Ghani, said last week the body was decomposing and was found clothed in shorts, socks and shoes, but with no shirt.

A mobile phone was also found nearby but there was no sign of any personal documentation.

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

His family mounted a high-profile campaign to intensify the search for him, which led to Prime Minister David Cameron speaking to his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak about the case.

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