Thousands of people have been  paying tribute to 20-year-old James  Bennion, who was found dead  after a widespread search last  week.

The body of the Ellesmere Port man –  who had worked in Chester – was  removed from the Albert Dock, Liverpool, at about 2.30pm on Thursday,  leaving a huge community in grief.

James’ colleagues, who worked with  him at the Chester Mail Centre on  Jupiter Drive, described him as ‘a  cracking, lovely lad’.

Communication Workers Union  (CWU) area processing representative  David Skingsley, who worked with  James and his father Paul at the centre,  paid tribute to the teenager, who he  says was liked by all members of staff.

“James worked here for about a year  as a postman and he was a very popular  lad, everyone liked him. He was just a  very nice lad, a cracking, lovely lad and  his dad is very popular too,” he said.

“We have started a collection in  memory of him that we hope will help  his family.”

If you would like to contribute to the  collection, call David on 07870 705458.

Family and friends had been out  searching for the young postman – who  was originally from Ellesmere Port –  since his disappearance, with posters  handed out and put up around Liverpool city centre and a large-scale  campaign launched through social media.

A Facebook page set up in James’  memory has attracted more than 14,000  followers.

Friends Zoe Newbolt, 17, and Alan  Clarke, 18, who both went to school  with James at Whitby High School in  Ellesmere Port, visited the dock to pay  tribute.

Zoe said: “It’s just tragic. You see it on  the news happening to other people,  but you don’t think that it would happen to someone that you know.

“We have come here to light candles  for him here. He was a good person.”

Alan said: “We went to the Leeds and  the V festivals with him and he made  the festival for everyone. There are  about 50 people in our group (of friends)  and no one ever said a bad word about  him.

“He got on really well with everyone.  His mates are from Chester and  Ellesmere Port mainly. He has worked  for Royal Mail (in Liverpool) for about a  year.

“I saw James two weeks ago and I had  a beer with him. He was his usual self –  a bubbly person.”

James, of  Wavertree  but originally  from Ellesmere Port, had been due to  meet friends at Garlands after leaving  Baa Bar on Fleet Street at about 3am on  Sunday but never turned up.

The search switched to the Albert  Dock on Wednesday after James was  identified on CCTV footage walking  near the Liverpool One bus interchange  at about 4.30am.

That footage was more than an hour later than the last previous confirmed sighting of James, which was in the Concert Square area of the city centre after he left Baa Bar.

Police divers spent several hours at  the docks on Wednesday, and the search  resumed on Thursday with police  divers again taking to the water in the  area near the Tate.

Police searching the Albert Dock found a body that was later identified as James Bennion
Police searching the Albert Dock found a body that was later identified as James Bennion
 

A cordon remained in place during the search on either side of Hartley bridge, which connects the Maritime Museum to the Tate.

A large truck from the North West Underwater Search and Marine Unit – one of the partner agencies involved – was also stationed outside the museum during the operation.

But the cordon was taken down at around  3.30pm after a body was discovered.

Friends – as well as those who didn’t  know him but were following the  search – left heartfelt tributes to him  across social media sites.

Alice Owen posted: “You are one amazing fella who touched everyone in some way, I love u so much!”

Debi Gayle wrote: “It is believed the body found in the Albert docks is that of my ex pupil James Bennion.

“I have fond memories of James from Whitby High School.

“My deepest condolences to your lovely family.

“I know the pain of the loss of a son.....you are in my thought at this sad sad time...I am so sorry for your loss....RIP James....life is so unfair.....God bless....xxxxxxxx”

Another friend, Evie Watson, wrote: “Can’t believe it. one of the nicest lads I’ve ever come across, you will be missed by so many mate rest in peace.”