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Family's agony as missing dad Paul Houston's body found in Ballymena woodland

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Search teams yesterday recovered a man's body close to the Ecos Centre in Ballymena. Sources involved in the search said they believed it to be that of Paul Houston

Search teams yesterday recovered a man's body close to the Ecos Centre in Ballymena. Sources involved in the search said they believed it to be that of Paul Houston

Search teams yesterday recovered a man's body close to the Ecos Centre in Ballymena. Sources involved in the search said they believed it to be that of Paul Houston

A body discovered in woodland in Co Antrim is believed to be that of a father-of-four who had been missing for more than a week.

Search teams yesterday recovered a man's body close to the Ecos Centre in Ballymena. Sources involved in the search said they believed it to be that of Paul Houston.

Police said they were not treating the death as suspicious.

Mr Houston (37) went missing from his home in nearby Broughshane nine days ago. Members of Mr Houston's family, friends and other volunteers had joined with police to search for him in recent days.

A line of enquiry is that he may have been in the Ballykeel area of Ballymena on the evening he went missing.

Search teams had scoured land between the estate and Broughshane over the past week.

The body was found at around 1.30pm yesterday.

Mr Houston's family are said to be "stunned and shattered".

He was well-known in the village of Broughshane and on Sunday prayers were said in churches for his safe return. Mr Houston was a member of St Patrick's Church of Ireland and last night the Rector and Dean of Connor, the Very Rev John Bond, in paying tribute to him, called it a "tragedy beyond words".

He said: "Paul was a caring and wonderful young man, who will be sorely missed by his wife and family and his mother and family circle and many friends.

"His death is not just a devastating blow to his family but to the community here in Broughshane where he was well-known, well-liked and held in high-esteem by all who knew him. It's a tragedy beyond words.

"Over these last days there has been a tremendous response from the community to support the family in this way and it's just so tragic that this has been the outcome - everybody is just totally shocked and stunned. The family are totally stunned and shattered. Like all of us, they were hoping for the best but now this is the worst possible outcome and all one can say is God help them."

Friends of Mr Houston paid tribute to him on his Facebook page last night. One posted: "It is with heartbreaking sadness that I say the search for our dear friend Paul Houston has come to an end.

"My heart goes out to his mum, brother Simon and his wife Karen and children. May you rest in peace, you will be missed forever but remembered always."

Another said: "Words can't describe the feeling of heartbreak we're feeling on this sad day. Paul Houston you were a gentleman and an old friend. Keep in mind those people who cared deeply for you."

Mr Houston leaves behind four young children - two sons and two daughters.

Belfast Telegraph