Northern Ireland news

Co Down teen found dead after five day search had a 'friendly smile'

John Paul Smyth were found on Saturday following a five day search
Marie Louise McConville

A Co Down schoolboy who was found dead following a five day search has been remembered for his "friendly smile" and "infectious personality."

Fifteen-year-old John Paul Smyth was last seen alive in Warrenpoint, Co Down on New Year's Eve.

A huge search operation, aided by teams of volunteers, was launched after the pupil at St Paul's High School, Bessbrook, was reported missing.

His remains were recovered from the water near Warrenpoint Pier on Saturday night.

Police confirmed the news by thanking all those who had helped in the search to find the teenager.

"Sadly, we are no longer searching for JP and offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends," a spokesman said.

St Paul's said the student's "tragic and accidental death" had "shocked and saddened us all".

St Paul's High School principal Jarlath Burns with John Paul Smyth

Posting on Facebook, the school said the "thoughts and prayers of the entire St Paul’s community go out to JP’s family and friends.

"JP’s infectious personality and his friendly smile endeared him to so many pupils and staff at St Paul’s".

The school's oratory was opened yesterday for a time to allow pupils, their families and staff to gather and remember JP.

The post added: "Support will be available to any pupils who are affected by JP’s death on their return to school on Monday.

"If you’ve been affected by JP’s death and wish to talk to someone who can help you, you can contact the Lifeline helpline on 0808 800 8000".

Jarlath Tinnelly, Independent Councillor in the area, said it was "the worst possible outcome.

"My condolences and the condolences of the people of the Warrenpoint area go to his family, friends and indeed his classmates," he said.

"What a sad start to the New Year for his family in particular".

Mr Tinnelly said there had been an "incredible" response from the community to the search.

"I particularly want to pay tribute to the emergency services and volunteer search and rescue teams on both sides of the border. They conducted a very thorough search while everyone else was still in holiday mode".

Sinn Féin MP Mickey Brady said the death had "deeply impacted on the wider community, and the thoughts and prayers of all are with those trying to come to terms with his death.

"By all accounts JP, a student at St Paul's High School, was a popular young man. St Paul's staff have taken steps to help support any students affected by this terrible loss.

"Finally I would also commend all who have been involved in the search to locate JP".

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