Band mates have paid tribute to Ian Leaf as a “truly genuine” young man after police searching for the missing school worker discovered a body.
Officers launched a manhunt after the 30-year-old failed to turn up for work at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, in Birtley, Gateshead, on Tuesday and his parents filed a missing person report.
Yesterday police searching for the former Lord Lawson pupil, from Washington, confirmed they had discovered a body and said formal identification was taking place.
Since news of the discovery surfaced, tributes have flooded in for the bass player who was an audio visual technician at the school and a member of local band My Attorney.
Stuart Stone, an accountancy teacher from South Gosforth, Newcastle, played drums in the same group as Mr Leaf for more than five years.
In the immediate aftermath of his disappearance, Mr Stone joined a growing number of people trying to trace the popular musician on social networking site Twitter. But yesterday morning he was told police had discovered a body in Gateshead and his parents were being told.
Last night the 28-year-old paid tribute to Mr Leaf and described him as a “truly genuine” young man. He said: “To anyone who met him, their only reaction was that he was just a lovely, lovely bloke. He was such a truly genuine guy and you couldn’t wish to meet a nicer bloke. He was just so friendly and lovely.
“I’ve had to inform quite a few friends but I’m just devastated. He was in work on Monday and he didn’t turn up for work on Tuesday.
“It’s completely out of character because he was such a reliable bloke. By 1.30pm on Tuesday his parents had filed a report to police. His friends and colleagues are absolutely devastated - I feel for his parents so much I can’t put into words.”
Mr Leaf had been employed at the Birtley school as audio visual technician and in April last year helped produce a production of High School Musical which involved more than 150 pupils.
Mark Lovatt, principal at Lord Lawson of Beamish Academy, said they would be informing pupils and teachers of the discovery this morning during a special assembly.
He paid tribute to Mr Leaf’s contribution to the school’s performing arts department and said pupils had recently made him a poster to thank him for his work in which they described him as “the glue that holds the department together”.
Mr Lovatt said: “He was a big part of the performing arts department. Everyone is shocked and devastated because I can’t tell you what a popular and valued member of staff he was.
“He was a valued and respected colleague and former student and he will be missed by all. The performing arts department is the beating heart of the school and Ian was quietly behind the scenes doing the lighting and audio. He was a massive part of the department.”
A Northumbria Police spokeswoman said: “Police searching for missing Washington man Ian Leaf have found the body of a man.
“Formal identification is yet to take place and police are not yet in a position to confirm the identity.”