THE BLOG

Gareth Huntley - Did You See Him? 'Please Share Him Back With Us', Plead Parents

11/09/2014 11:57 BST | Updated 11/11/2014 10:59 GMT

The family of British backpacker, Gareth Huntley - found dead eight days after he 'disappeared' in Malaysia - issued a fresh appeal for information.

The 34-year-old accountant from north London was volunteering at a turtle sanctuary in Tioman Island, when he went missing.

His parents want to piece together "a bizarre blank space of time", during his last hours on the tropical island, off the Malaysian east coast.

Desperate to keep his memory alive, they have made a public plea for details of the days leading up to his death. It is felt that backpackers or holidaymakers, travelling in that area at the time, might be able to help.

On a poster-type 'image', which they want to be shared through social media sites, they wrote: "Does anyone have any pictures of him snorkeling with turtles? Are there any stories of him talking to people about his interests in the environment and sustainability?

"Did anyone cross his path if even for a minute but still remember his warm smile? We welcome any and all memories.

"We kindly ask for your help in remembering Gareth, specifically during his last days on Tioman Island.

"No matter how short an encounter or blurry a picture, we would so greatly appreciate if you could please reach out and share him back with us."

Search parties were sent out when he didn't return from a jungle trail to see a waterfall on May 27. He had told friends at the Juara Turtle Project that he would be back by 2pm for a planned dive, but failed to turn up.

It was eight days before the University of Leeds graduate was found dead in a pond, next to a kayak storage unit, close to where he was last seen.

His body was so decomposed he had to be identified by his DNA and DNA samples taken from his mother, Janet Southwell. She had flown out to help with the hunt, applying pressure to the authorities, with Mr Huntley's girlfriend Kit Natariga.

Unable to hold a funeral yet, due to coroner's rules and procedures, they have vowed to remember him positively.

The statement reads: "Admittedly we are still finding it difficult to wrap our heads around his loss. We know that the delayed funeral is contributing to this feeling.

"We also feel that knowing so little about his last days is playing a role. It leaves us with a bizarre blank space of time that we know can be filled with your help.

"As we await news from the coroner that will allow us to proceed with this next step in grieving his loss, we as a family have decided to spend our time remembering and celebrating his life."

Claims, made at the time by local tour guides, that Mr Huntley's throat had been slit were not confirmed by police. An initial post-mortem had revealed no external injuries and the cause of death is still awaited.

His family said they are thankful for the stories and pictures received, but the timeline of Gareth's Tioman Island trip is yet to be completed.

The heartfelt request ends: "We know that our loss has been your loss too. Thank you for helping us find Gareth. Now it's time to remember him."

Anyone with memories, can email rememberinggareth@gmail.com.