Yorkshire backpacker ‘not in fight before jungle disappearance’

Gareth Huntley
Gareth Huntley
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Police in Malaysia have denied that a British backpacker was involved in a fight shortly before he went missing in the jungle, it was reported.

Gareth Huntley’s body was found on Wednesday after he disappeared during a trek to a waterfall on Tioman Island, off the south-eastern coast of the country’s mainland.

It was discovered in a pond just yards from a kayak storage shed at the Juara Turtle Project where he had been volunteering, adjacent to a row of cabins used by rescue teams during the search.

Police in the country said yesterday that they were investigating claims the 34-year-old was involved in a fight before he went missing.

It was reported that he may be have been murdered, and there were claims that his throat had been cut.

But a senior police officer on the island has denied the suggestion, local newspaper the Malaysia Star said.

Senior Assistant Commissioner Datuk Mohd Zakaria Ahmad said: “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 told the newspaper that police were not ruling out foul play, but said the investigation was in its early days.

He said a post-mortem examination had revealed no external injuries.

The cause of death has not yet been established.

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.