Friend confirms Paul Arber's body found

'Tranquil' Paul pulled from the river

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 15:53 12/12/2013
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ

Police hold a press conference about the body they pulled from the Waikato River today.

Paul Arber
Bruce Mercer/Fairfax NZ Zoom
Parents Richelle and Sam "couldn't have wished for anywhere more beautiful" for their son's body to be found, says family friend Mark Sheppard.

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The body pulled from the Waikato River this morning is that of missing Australian tennis coach Paul Arber, a friend has confirmed.

"The guy's in black shorts, he's been missing four days, there's really not much doubt. It's 100 per cent," close friend Mark Sheppard said.

"It's the worst possibility but I think we've been building ourselves up to it for the past four days that it could have been a possibility for sure...we can't say we were surprised."

The Australian tennis tour team, including Mr Arber's parents Richelle and Sam Arber, held a ceremony on the banks of the river this morning near where the body was found.

Mr Sheppard said he wanted to make it clear that Mr Arber was in a "tranquil and happy" state when he went into the river.

"Paul was getting in touch with nature, it was 4am, he's actually gone into that river to have a swim," he said.

"He hasn't been in the mental frame of mind to ascertain the dangers of the river or the treachery of the river, but what actually happened to Paul was an accident. It was 100 per cent an accident.

"He was in a happy state of mind and in a tranquil state of mind."

The children on the tennis tour were upset but had decided to keep playing in the tournament, Mr Sheppard said.

"Because of Paul every single one of them wants to partake in the tour. They still want to keep going because they've said that Paul has taught them you've got to be a fighter, you've got to be tough, you've got to have determination and in respect for Paul they want to go ahead with the tour."

Mr Arber's parents were finding the situation hard but were grateful to the people of New Zealand and police for their help, Mr Sheppard said.

"Obviously they're terribly upset about it," he said.

"Mr Arber and Mrs Arber thought the location where everything was found, as morbid as it might sound, they just thought he couldn't have wished for anywhere more beautiful.

"In the worst possible outcome, they felt as happy as they could possibly be."

 

PAUL'S FINAL HOURS

Mr Arber was last seen onn CCTV footage at a service station in Clyde St at 1:30am Sunday wearing only black shorts, Waikato field crime manager Detective Inspector Karl Thornton said.

Police were also interviewing somebody about clothing found in Cook St, which they believe to be the grey tennis tracksuit Mr Arber was wearing when he went missing, Thornton said.

Police have not confirmed the body found is Mr Arber but confirmed the body was male, had only black shorts on and appeared to be Caucasian. 

It was a Hamilton Girls' High School rowing crew that discovered the body in the river near Anne St and principal Marie Gordon said they were being given counselling.

Ms Gordon said the girls were distraught but "coped admirably" with the situation.

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