Family of Leeds backpacker found dead in Malaysia 'still have unanswered questions'

Gareth Huntley, 34, disappeared on May 27 when he went on a trek to a waterfall on Tioman Island, Malaysia. Credit: Personal Photograph

A family of a British backpacker who was found dead in the Malaysian jungle six years ago have said there are many unanswered questions "which we will probably never find the answers to".

Gareth Huntley, 33, disappeared on Tioman Island on May 27 2014, after setting off for a walk to a local waterfall as he was working as a volunteer for the Juara Turtle Project, an inquest heard.

Despite extensive searches, his body was not found until June 4, only a short distance from the project, where police had established their command post.

After a day-long inquest in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, coroner Jan Alam said the cause of Mr Huntley's death could not be ascertained, partly due to the decomposition of his body by the time it was found.

Credit: PA

Ms Alam said in her narrative conclusion: "There are no positive findings to support third-party involvement in Gareth's death, although this cannot be ruled out.

"How Gareth came by his death remains unknown."

His mother, Janet Southwell, who was at Thursday's inquest, has led a six-year-long fight to find out what happened to her son.

The coffin of backpacker Gareth Huntley, who died in Malaysia, arrives at Leeds Minster for his funeral service. Credit: PA

A statement issued on behalf of the family following the hearing said: "It's been six years since Gareth died and we have waited a long time for this day.

"The pain of losing Gareth has been compounded by the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.

"We still have many unanswered questions, many of which we will probably never find the answers to."

Gareth was a shining light in the lives of so many. He brought so much joy to people and infected all he met with an exuberance and lust for life. During this difficult time, we have been able to keep pushing for answers only because of the love and support of friends, family and our fantastic legal team. We'd like to thank everyone who has supported us on this difficult journey.

Janet Southwell