POLICE believe they have recovered the body of a man who jumped into a fast-flowing river to evade a police helicopter he thought was following him.

A mountain rescue team using canoes discovered the body, thought to be that of 21-year-old John Fisher, in the River Wear in Durham City on Saturday.

It is thought that Mr Fisher and a 20-year-old friend, who has not been named, mistakenly thought they were being pursued by a police helicopter in the early hours of Monday, February 12.

The helicopter was on a routine operation and a police spokesman confirmed that the men were not being pursued at the time.

Mr Fisher, who lived with his mother and younger brother in Gilesgate, Durham, went into the water near Barker's Hough sewerage works.

Now police believe they have found his body half a mile downstream at a part of the river known as The Sands. However, police are keen to stress that the body has not been identified yet.

A spokesman for County Durham police said: "The body of a man has been found in the River Wear during a search involving canoes by members of the Teesdale Mountain Rescue team.

"The search, which was carried out with the help of the Northumbria Police Underwater Search Unit, was organised by Durham City police in connection with the disappearance of a man in the city on February 12.

"It has been thought likely that this man had gone into the water for some reason. It appears that the body has been in the river for some time, but we have yet to confirm whether or not it is that of the missing man."