Body found in Australia bushland is 'missing British man Gary Tweddle'

Gary Tweddle has not been seen since he disappeared after a work dinner seven weeks ago

Police have recovered a body believed to be a British man who went missing in bushland in Australia.

Despite extensive searches, Gary Tweddle, 23, has not been seen since he disappeared after a work dinner during a conference in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, nearly seven weeks ago.

The computer salesman, who had emigrated to Australia with his family, was last heard from when he rang colleagues also staying at the Fairmont Resort in Leura in the early hours of July 17 to say he was lost.

A body believed to be Mr Tweddle was spotted by an ambulance rescue helicopter during a training exercise near bushland in Leura at about 4pm local time (7am BST), yesterday.

A recovery operation has been completed and he is expected to be formally identified in a number of days, police said.

A New South Wales (NSW) police spokeswoman said: "A body was recovered this afternoon. It was winched from a cliff edge in the Blue Mountains.

"Formal identification has been initiated but it will be a number of days before this is completed."

Joanne Elliott, a spokeswoman for Blue Mountains Local Area Command, said the "extremely rough terrain" meant police rescue officers had been unable to retrieve the body yesterday.

"The location couldn't be accessed on foot and the crew lost all light in the mountains so we're unable to get down to the ground," she added.

As police confirmed a body had been found, Mr Tweddle's girlfriend told friends and family that "the sun is beginning to rise on a day that we have all been hoping would never come".

Anika Haigh wrote on her Facebook page: "A body has been found in the area of Gary's disappearance and today it will be retrieved and identified. Please know that nothing has been confirmed at this stage but I hope in a few hours we will have an answer either way.

"One thing I know for certain is that Gary will... come home one day - his fight, determination & 'never give up' attitude that we all loved so much about him will guide him."

She added that it was time for him "to come home where you belong".

Earlier this week she wrote that she would "never give up hope for a miracle" after police said they were treating Mr Tweddle's disappearance as "accidental death".

The disappearance of Mr Tweddle, who is originally from Reading, sparked the biggest search ever conducted in the Blue Mountains with more than 1,000 officials and volunteers, according to local media reports.

His father David flew out to Australia from his home in Berkshire to help with the search effort before he returned to the UK last month.

A Facebook page titled "Have you seen Gary Tweddle?" has attracted more than 4,500 likes.

Mr Tweddle's mother Carol Streatfield, who also lives in Australia, had also flown to the Blue Mountains to join the search for her son.

She said the phone call from Ms Haigh telling her that her son was missing was the first step in the most "heartbreaking journey" of her life.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Office last month, she said: "On the mountain my days were filled with sirens, noise, searching, tireless walking and door knocking. I repeatedly followed the track I believed he had taken in the hopes of finding a clue.

"Every pole and tree were covered with his beautiful face, however it was on a piece of A4 paper with a 'missing' heading.

"At one point I was so exhausted I found a bench to sit on in the middle of a bush track, and as I sat down and there to left of me was Gary's photo. It was a small comfort as I stroked his face, kissed him and told him how much I loved him and that I will never give up trying to find him, ever."

Ms Streatfield married her partner Clive last month in what she described as an "intimate celebration of our family unity".

She went on: "Gary was to give me away that morning and this decision was difficult to come to, however made easy by the fact that Gary was adamant that after 15 years we tie the knot.

"It was a day full of emotions with a common theme - love and hope for Gary, for us and for our family.

"Gary was the most positive person I know, today he would say to me, 'Just get on with it, mother', and so I will. I remain as positive as ever as Gary would want me to.

"I just want my beautiful boy back. There is always love and hope and it is these two things that I will hold on to, always."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of reports that a body has been found. We are making inquiries."