The mum of teenager Liam Smith this afternoon told of her heartbreak after police confirmed that a body found in a woodland was that of the missing Westhill Academy pupil.
Liam, 16, disappeared in November last year, sparking an extensive search and rescue operation.
Formal identification of the body, which was discovered on Friday at Craig of Affrusk, south of Banchory, has now taken place.
In a statement released through Police Scotland, Liam’s mum Alix Smith said: “While we never gave up hope of finding Liam, we were realistic about the challenges facing us. Our hearts are broken.
“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been involved in the search for Liam including members of the public who took it upon themselves to help.
“Thank you also to everyone who has left messages of support which have provided us with comfort at extremely difficult times.
“At this most difficult time of all, we would ask for privacy as we try to come to terms with our enormous loss.”