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Tribute to aristocrat gun death boy

The aristocratic family of teenager Alexander Codrington, who apparently shot himself dead while talking to a police officer on the phone, have paid tribute to their "wonderful, beautiful boy".

Alexander, the 16-year-old son of Sir Christopher Codrington, is believed to have killed himself as armed police searched for him after he disappeared in woodland near Witney, Oxfordshire.

There is speculation the incident may have been triggered by a break-up with his girlfriend, which reportedly happened just hours earlier. She is said to have alerted the authorities about his state.

In a statement, the family, from Fordwells, near Witney, said: "Our loving son, devoted and kind-hearted brother, Alexander, died tragically in the early hours of Friday July 30 2010, aged 16.

"He will be deeply missed by all who knew him. His humour, his loyalty, his love of the outdoors will long be remembered by the family and friends with whom he spent many happy days. We will all carry many happy memories of this wonderful, beautiful boy."

The Independent Police Complaints Commission has launched an inquiry into officers' involvement in the incident in Leafield, near Witney.

Armed response officers and the force helicopter had been sent to woodland to search for him on Friday morning.

Alexander, a pupil at exclusive Stowe School, spoke to officers on a mobile phone after a friend concerned for his welfare called Thames Valley Police, believing he was armed with a gun.

Giving details of the incident, an IPCC spokesman said: "The officer stayed on the phone to him until approximately 5.20am when, while on the phone, the officer heard a shot. Alexander's body was discovered by officers a short time later. He was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene."

An inquest into the student's death has been opened and adjourned, the Oxfordshire Coroner's Office confirmed. A post-mortem examination confirmed he died of a single gunshot wound.

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