Body found in hunt for Aisling

11:57, Oct 18 2009
AISLING SYMES: The toddler disappeared from the home of her late grandparents on October 5, when her mother turned her back briefly.
AISLING SYMES: The toddler disappeared from the home of her late grandparents on October 5, when her mother turned her back briefly.
GRAVE CONCERNS: A police officer and search team member outside the home of a two-year-old girl who went missing from her home in Longburn Road in Henderson.
GRAVE CONCERNS: A police officer and search team member outside the home of a two-year-old girl who went missing from her home in Longburn Road in Henderson.
COMBING THE AREA: Searchers scour Pomoria Road near the home of a two year old girl who went missing from her home in Longburn Road in Henderson.
COMBING THE AREA: Searchers scour Pomoria Road near the home of a two year old girl who went missing from her home in Longburn Road in Henderson.
NEIGHBOURHOOD: Children walk down the road after a two year old girl who went missing from her home in Longburn Road in Henderson.
NEIGHBOURHOOD: Children walk down the road after a two year old girl who went missing from her home in Longburn Road in Henderson.
HQ: Searchers enter Pomaria Primary School which is the base for the search and rescue co-ordination for toddler Aisling Symes.
HQ: Searchers enter Pomaria Primary School which is the base for the search and rescue co-ordination for toddler Aisling Symes.
ON HAND: A police officer dons his high-visibility vest as he enters Pomaria Primary School which is the base for the search for missing toddler Aisling Symes.
ON HAND: A police officer dons his high-visibility vest as he enters Pomaria Primary School which is the base for the search for missing toddler Aisling Symes.
AREA SEARCHED: A police officer speaks to a local resident in Henderson after Aisling went missing.
AREA SEARCHED: A police officer speaks to a local resident in Henderson after Aisling went missing.
AREA COMBED: Police search one of the waterways near the street where toddler Aisling Symes went missing.
AREA COMBED: Police search one of the waterways near the street where toddler Aisling Symes went missing.
SEARCH
FRANTIC HUNT: Police search one of the waterways near the street where the child went missing.
PARK: Police search a park near where Aisling Symes went missing.
PARK: Police search a park near where Aisling Symes went missing.
search
NO SIGN: Two members of the search team on the street where the toddler went missing.
Search
WATERWAY: Police search one of the waterways near the street where the two-year-old went missing.
DIFFICULT TASK: Earlier in the search, Inspector Gary Davey speaks to the media about the hunt for Aisling.
DIFFICULT TASK: Earlier in the search, Inspector Gary Davey speaks to the media about the hunt for Aisling.
SEARCHERS ASSISTED: Police had brought in dogs to search for the missing toddler.
SEARCHERS ASSISTED: Police had brought in dogs to search for the missing toddler.
Aisling Symes
AISLING SYMES: The two-year old had disappeared from the home of her late grandparents about 5.15pm on October 5.
Aithne Potts
WHERE IS AISLING? Family spokesperson Aithne Potts speaks to the media during a press conference at Henderson police station.
Quizzed
QUIZZED: An Asian couple who were babysitting their friend's child 20-month-old Ellen - who looks remarkably similar to missing toddler Aisling Symes - were questioned by police in Auckland.
Alan and Angela Symes
EMOTIONAL PLEA: Alan and Angela Symes said the last few days had been the most harrowing of their lives.
WATCHING AND WAITING: The crowd gathered outside the west Auckland property where searchers were search dig, near the location where Aisling Symes went missing a week ago.
WATCHING AND WAITING: The crowd gathered outside the west Auckland property where searchers were digging, near the location where Aisling Symes went missing a week ago.
Inspector Gary Davey
GRIM NEWS: Inspector Gary Davey at a media conference in Pomaria Rd, west Auckland.
Aisling - residents
SAD OUTCOME: The shocked faces of locals shortly after it was announced that a body of a young child was found near where Aisling Symes went missing.
Aisling search
ALERT: Scenes from Pomaria Road in Henderson, Auckland where dozens turned up after police cordoned an area in the search for Aisling Symes.
Aisling
SUPPORT: Onlookers light candles at the scene where two-year-old Aisling Symes' body was found.
GRIM ANNOUNCEMENT: Inspector Gary Davey of Waitakere police holds a press conference giving details of their overnight findings.
GRIM ANNOUNCEMENT: Inspector Gary Davey of Waitakere police holds a press conference giving details of their overnight findings.
GRIEF: A woman places flowers outside the property belonging to the Symes family.
GRIEF: A woman places flowers outside the property which had belonged to the Symes family.
SAD FIND: Scene of where searchers were digging behind a west Auckland property overnight near the location where Aisling Symes went missing a week ago.
SAD FIND: Scene of where searchers were digging behind a west Auckland property overnight near the location where Aisling Symes went missing a week ago.
TRIBUTE: A boy lays a bouquet amid flowers and toys left outside the property which had belonged to the Symes family.
TRIBUTE: A boy lays a bouquet amid flowers and toys left outside the property which had belonged to the Symes family.
Aishling Symes graphic
SCENE: How the Aishling Symes tragedy unfolded.

Police have found a child's body, believed to be that of Aisling Symes, after searchers dug a west Auckland property near where the two-year-old went missing a week ago.

Inspector Gary Davey said it was with "tremendous sadness" that he could confirm police had discovered the body of a child in a drain just after 8pm this evening. He could not confirm it was Aisling.

The body, which was discovered in a drainpipe under a Henderson property shortly before 8pm last night, was removed from the scene shortly after midnight and taken to the Auckland Hospital mortuary.

Aisling Symes
MISSING: The investigation into the disappearance of Aisling Symes has entered its second week.

A post mortem examination of the child's body will be carried out at 9am. 

The area where she was found is under guard and the scene examination will continue today.

"I know you have a lot of questions and so do I," Mr Davey said last night.

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"Over the next few hours and days we will work through those questions."

Speaking with tears in his eyes Mr Davey said the property, about 200 metres from Aisling's deceased grandparents' home, had now been cordoned off and was being treated as a crime scene.

Police staff from the investigation are with the Symes family tonight.

At 10.30pm tonight more than 100 people at the scene, some with small children, holding candles and huddled in blankets. Leah Hayes said the discovery of the child's body "made her feel physically sick. "I was hoping for a happy ending. It's just so sad."

An address in Pomaria Rd, which backs on to the property has also been under police guard.

Fire officers and police spent the evening digging land located down a long driveway off the Pomaria Rd address, which backs on to a creek and neighbours Aisling's grandparents' house in Longburn Rd.

The area had been covered with tarpaulin and was being searched by around 15 police officers under lights.

It is understood police had also searched a septic tank at the back of the section.

Earlier around 200 people gathered outside the property where the sound of heavy machinery had been heard and a helicopter had been hovering nearby.

Family members who attended a church service this evening praying for Aisling's safe return, were also called away. Aisling's parents were not in attendance.

Firefighters had been working since about 6pm on the Pomaria Rd address.

Aisling disappeared a week ago from the front yard of her deceased grandparents' west Auckland home. She was watching her mother, Angela, and five-year-old sister Caitlin fix a tap on a washing machine when she wandered away.

A police search team scoured a three kilometre radius around the house for nearly 48 hours but failed to find any trace of Aisling.

The last confirmed sighting of her had been at 5.15pm last Monday in Longburn Rd, Henderson, in the company of an unknown Asian woman who was walking a dog.

Late this afternoon British peer Michael Ashcroft offered a reward of $50,000 for information on the missing toddler.

It is not known whether this reward offer had any connection with tonight's discovery.

Lord Ashcroft offered a reward of $200,000 after the Waiouru Army Museum's war medals were stolen last year and visited New Zealand earlier this year to discuss establishing crime tip-off service Crimestoppers, which was launched today.

Police staff on the inquiry had been increased to 70.

Last week police said after an intensive search of the area around the Longburn Rd home of her deceased grandparents, they were convinced she was not in the area.

Aisling's father said the past week has been "one very long bad day".

A Facebook site set up by Symes family member Christina Bartle had more than 12,000 members last night.

Mrs Bartle, whose husband is Aisling's cousin, said Aisling's parents had been overwhelmed by the messages of support.

- with NZPA

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