Hundreds of people are paying tribute to 20-year-old James Bennion who was found dead after a frantic  four-day search .

His body was removed from the the  Albert Dock  at around 2.30pm, sparking a huge outpouring of grief.

Family and friends had also been out searching for the young postman - who has connections to the Chester and Ellesmere Port areas - since his disappearance, with posters being handed out and put up around the city centre and a large-scale campaign launched through social media.

Following the recovery of his body, believed to be near to the Tate, police said they were not due to carry out formal identification until tomorrow.

His sister Aimee paid tribute on Twitter.

At the time of writing, hundreds of people had joined a Facebook page set up in James’ memory.

Video Loading
 

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 around 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 around 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 this morning with police divers again taking to the water in the area near the Tate.

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.

And a spokesman for Merseyside police said: “Merseyside Police can confirm that a body has been recovered from the water in Albert Dock.

“At this stage the body has not been formally identified.”

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....R.I.P. 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.”