Friends of missing Luton man Edward Gillespie have spoken of their sadness after a body was discovered in the area where he disappeared.
Officers from Essex Police were called to Roydon Marina last Saturday after a member of the public on a boat spotted a body in the water.
While it has yet to be formally identified as that of Mr Gillespie, long-time friend Matt McGrath said friends and family had feared the worst after five weeks of searching.
The 38-year-old, of Rosslyn Crescent, had last been seen at his office Christmas party at the Roydon Marina Hotel on December 22.
Police launched an extensive search of the area but were hampered by high water levels due to heavy rainfall.
“Everyone just sort of knew it was a matter of time,” said Mr McGrath, of Icknield Way, a friend of Mr Gillespie since their Icknield High School days.
“There aren’t really any words for how we’re feeling at the moment, everyone is in shock.”
Hundreds of people have posted tributes on the ‘Help Find Missing Eddie Gillespie’ Facebook page set up by Mr McGrath.
“I wanted to have somewhere where people could share their stories about Eddie,” he said.
“He was always happy, he had a laugh which was so loud and he was always joking. He loved life, and that’s the horrible thing about it.
“Everyone liked being around him because he just made people happy. He wasn’t just my best mate, he was everyone’s best mate. He was a such a likeable person, very popular.”
Mr McGrath has been to lay flowers at the marina where his friend disappeared.
And he paid tribute to police efforts over the weeks to find Mr Gillespie.
“They did such a great job, they threw a hell of a lot of resources into looking for him and they were going to do even more.
“And everyone at Henderson’s, the bar where Eddie had been, has been really great. While we were searching they supplied us with coffee and let us use all their facilities, they were really good to us.”