Relatives of a missing Northern Irishman whose body was found in the canal near Wigan Pier have paid tribute.
Mervyn Craig vanished a month ago having moved to the town to live with internet pal Lisa Kilmartin in Scholes just 12 days earlier.
The 38-year-old mum said that on February 8 when he was last seen alive he had been drinking heavily, consuming almost two litres of vodka, and then began hallucinating that people were coming over from Ireland to get him.
He hitched a lift in a pizza delivery van from Lisa’s home in Scholes to Wigan town centre and the last sighting of him was that evening outside the new Arnold Clark showroom in Wallgate.
A major search was launched and appeals made but it was only on Monday morning – what would have been the Lisburn man’s 47th birthday – that his body was spotted in the waters of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near to the Seven Stars bridge.
Yesterday Mr Craig’s sister Pamela Harper told the Belfast Telegraph how she had daily conversations with her brother in Wigan, including on the day he disappeared.
Mrs Harper also said their parents Winnie, 68, and William, 72, were overcome with grief after Mr Craig’s body was discovered in the water yesterday morning. She said: “Mummy and daddy are in bits; they’re utterly devastated.
“They can’t believe that they’re going to be burying their own son.
“When Mervyn went missing we tried to keep positive, but as time went on we started to fear the worst.”
Relatives are now awaiting the results of a post-mortem examination.