A TOP police chief who began his career in south Essex has been found dead at a Welsh beauty spot.

The body of Michael Todd, 50, chief constable of Greater Manchester Police, was discovered on Snowdonia's Bwlch Glas mountain yesterday afternoon.

Rescue teams were scrambled to search for the married dad-of-three after he went missing in bad weather while on a walking tour. The cause of death is not confirmed, but police fear it may be suicide.

Last night, tributes poured in for the much-respected policeman who was famous for his no-nonsense attitude.

Despite moving to Manchester in 2002, Mr Todd was proud of his Essex roots having been a pupil at Billericay Primary School and the Billericay School.

He began his career working for Essex Police in 1976 where he pounded the beat as a bobby in Billericay, Grays and Southend.

Essex chief constable Roger Baker said: "Like all members of Essex Police I was shocked to learn of the death of Mike Todd. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his family, friends and colleagues."

Manchester's deputy chief constable Dave Whatton added: "As you can imagine all of his friends and colleagues are extremely upset."

Mr Todd leaves his wife, 13-year-old twin boys and a daughter, 16. On his personal Friends Reunited website profile Mr Todd jokes at rising through the ranks to become the leader of the country's second largest police force, despite his less than perfect school record.

It read: "Having not exactly been an academic star at school, I joined the police service. As a result of this I was given the opportunity to go to university full time.

"Thus perhaps I have proved some of the teachers wrong!"

After working at Essex Police for 17 years, Mr Todd went on to work for the Metropolitan and Nottinghamshire police forces.

He made headlines when he allowed himself to be tazered' by a stun gun during a publicity campaign to prove the controversial weapons were just as effective as guns.

Poignantly, he adds on Friends Reunited: "I am extremely lucky in having a job which is such fun and so rewarding, although it can be rather demanding when you get Jeremy Paxmaned' from time to time!"

Chiefs from Essex University in Chelmsford also paid tribute to Mr Todd, who gained his first class honours degree and a Master of Philosophy degree in politics there.