The heartbroken family of a missing Newtownabbey man have said that a body found on Cavehill on Saturday was his.
Dean McIlwaine, 22, was last seen in the Carnmoney Road area of Newtownabbey around 1pm on July 13.
Inspector Mark Cavanagh said: “Police can confirm that the body of a man has been found in the Cavehill area of north Belfast.
“A post mortem will be carried out in due course to determine the cause of death. There are no further details at this time.”
Dean’s aunt Kim Malone issued a statement on Facebook today confirming that the body was Dean’s.
“I’m sure by now most of you are aware Dean Mac was found yesterday,” she said. “It wasn’t unfortunately the outcome was had hoped and prayed for but we have him back. To say Karen Rod and Glen Demi Jo Steph and the entire family are heartbroken is an understatement.
“Dean was a loving gorgeous talented hard working young man who had everything going for him. What a waste of his precious life. Our family will never be the same without you Dean.
“We love u with all our hearts rest easy son God bless see you on the other side.”
She then went on to extend gratitude to the many volunteers and professionals that had helped in the search for him “and mostly Davy McCrum who brought him back to us. It has been absolutely unbelievable”.
She added: “I’m sure I’ve missed someone out but from the bottom of our hearts we thank every single person God bless xo.”
SDLP councillor Paul McCusker had helped coordinate searches for Dean since he went missing.
He said over 400 volunteers had turned out on Cavehill on Saturday at noon and that Dean was found several hours later.
Dean’s mother Karen and father Rod had issued heartfelt pleas for him to return home.
He had been at a barbecue with family and friends the day before he went missing.
His brother Glenn said Dean had been due to open his own barber shop.
Hundreds of people had combed the streets of Belfast looking for him.
His distraught father led a 60-strong search team scouring every street and alleyway between the city centre and the Mater Hospital on the Crumlin Road.
The family said they had been overwhelmed by the level of support for the search.