A BODY found in the New Forest yesterday has this afternoon been confirmed as that of missing teenager Ross Haughey.

The 17-year-old was found yesterday, three days after he failed to return home after leaving to go for a walk on Sunday afternoon.

Police and specialist search volunteers have spent days looking for the Burgate School A-level student across a large swathe of forest land where Ross used to enjoy walking and running.

Yesterday they were joined by dozens of Ross's fellow pupils and teachers from the sixth form who have already spearheaded a massive internet campaign to try and find Ross reaching millions of people.

But the large scale search was halted around 3pm yesterday when a member of the public called 999 to say they had found a body near to Linwood.

Hampshire's air ambulance was called in and could be seen hovering in the distance from Abbotswell car park in Frogham, which had been the base of search operations to find the teenager since the start of the week.

Since the find, Ross's parents Brian and Penny and his older brother Max have had to brace themselves for the worst.

In a statement, his family said: “The tragic news of our much-loved son Ross has devastated our family, relatives and friends. This has been the hardest thing that we have ever had to cope with.

“Ross was quiet, intelligent and had achieved excellent GCSE exam results which he was very proud of. He was doing well in his sixth form A-level studies.

“Ross loved his running and was proud to represent the Hampshire area and also did well in the 10 kilometre runs.

“We were overwhelmed by all the offers of help to search for Ross in the New Forest. We cannot thank everyone enough and would like to send our special thanks to relatives, friends and neighbours, the police and voluntary search crews as well as the Burgate School and sixth form that took part in the search.

“We miss Ross desperately at this time and would ask that you continue to respect our privacy.”