by Peter Swindon

A major police investigation is under way after the body of a 16-year-old boy was found on grassland next to a high school in Erskine.

The grim discovery was made by three men making their way to a nearby petrol station in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Police have named the teenager as Owen MacDonald and have been in contact with relatives. 

He was a pupil at Park Mains High School, where a cordon was set up around grassland yesterday after the body was found at around 5.40am. 

The death is being treated as unexplained and a team of forensic officers were at the scene gathering evidence for several hours yesterday evening.

Police tape also created a barrier across an underpass below Rashielee Road.

More than a dozen officers were stationed at points around the cordon to prevent onlookers straying into the parkland where the body lay. A single bunch of flowers was placed on a grass bank near the feet of a watching police officer.

Michael Dewar, headteacher of Park Mains High said: "This is a tragic loss of a young life.  

"The thoughts of the whole school community are with Owen's family.

"Appropriate support will be available when the school resumes on Tuesday."

Shortly after 5pm yesterday a black ambulance arrived and the body was removed by two officers in white forensic suits carrying a stretcher.

Colleagues were then seen placing evidence bags in unmarked police cars parked on Rashielee Road.

Detective Inspector Tom Carty, the lead officer at the scene, told the Gazette's sister title the Herald: “The body of a young man was discovered at 5:40am by three men who were walking to the 24 hour garage. They called the police and gave us information.

“We set up a cordon and erected a tent around 6am. A meticulous search was carried out, with every aspect looked at.”

DI Carty added: “We are in the process of speaking to relatives and those who may have known him. The death is currently being treated as unexplained.”

Several elderly women and a group of young people were nearby when the body was removed.

One woman, who asked not to be named, said: “It's all old people around here. It used to be a nice area. I'm very concerned about what's going on.”

Her 70-year-old neighbour, who didn’t want to be named, added: “It's awfully sad. The family of that young man will be heartbroken today.”

Both women said they had been woken at 2am by a commotion and the sound of sirens, but police could not confirm last night whether this was linked to their investigation.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: “Following the discovery of a body near Rashielee Avenue, Erskine on Sunday, officers can confirm the body has been identified as a 16-year-old male.

“A post mortem examination has been carried out and the death is being treated as unexplained.

“A report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal and enquiries are ongoing.”