THE HEARTBROKEN family of Gary Billings have paid tribute to the much-loved dad.

The 37-year-old leaves behind his daughter, seven-year-old Isla.

His death has sparked an outpouring of emotion, with Isla’s mum, Kerrie Ashpole, insisting the family will remember him as “the happy man you always were”. 

She said: “I only wish you knew how loved you are. 

“You were my best friend and Isla’s daddy. Don’t worry Gaz, I am going to stay strong for our baby girl.

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“I promise you she will always remember you are the happy man, you always were. 

“Love you lots, Gazza.”

The search to find a missing man tragically ended as police found a body in Basildon. 

Essex Police confirmed yesterday they had located the body of a man that was later identified as Gary Billings.

The former Chalvedon School pupil initially went missing on Saturday, with a police search carried out across south Essex. 

The Mayor of Basildon, David Dadds also tweeted his condolences. 

He said: “My thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the family and friends of Gary Billings at this time.”

After Gary was reported missing, a Facebook group was set up in the hope of finding him, with the page shared far and wide. 

Following the discovery of his body, founder of the group, Gemma Rose Wheeler, posted: “It is with great sadness that we update this page, unfortunately Gary has been found.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Gary’s family and young daughter at this extremely sad and difficult time.”

“Gary’s family would like to thank everyone that assisted, searched, and raised awareness but please respect the families wishes and give them the privacy they need at this time.

“Rest In Peace Gary Billings 1984-2022.”

READ MORE - Book of condolence: Your tributes to Gary Billings 

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Officers carrying out a search for Gary Billings, who had been missing from his home in Basildon, have located the body of a man.

“Tragically, the body has now been identified as Mr Billings.

“Mr Billings’ family members are now being supported by our officers.

“Thank you to everyone who shared our appeal and the thoughts of everyone at Essex Police are with Mr Billings’ family and friends.”