Workmen answering an emergency call-out to install safety fencing around a frozen pond suffered a “bitter blow” when they heard that the man found dead beneath the ice was a popular colleague.

Tributes have been paid to 55-year-old Trevor Farr, nicknamed Spratty, who was discovered in an ornamental pond near the law courts on Channing Way in Bradford city centre.

On the night of the tragedy, Mr Farr, a lorry driver for the Thomas Crompton plant hire company, had been to a Christmas party with workmates and was walking past the pond on his way to catch a bus home.

Police said CCTV footage showed a man tripping up and stumbling into the pond at about 10.30pm on Friday.

On Saturday afternoon, two 13-year-old boys discovered Mr Farr’s body. His family said they had now been told by the coroner that he suffered a massive heart attack.

Thomas Crompton, who owns the company of the same name, said: “On Friday, we took a few of the staff down to the Bedford Arms in Wakefield Road for a few drinks.

“It was a nice evening – nothing excessive – and Trevor and I had been playing dominoes.

“On Saturday afternoon, I got an emergency callout from the Council to go and fence off all the ponds around the law courts to make it safe because they had found a body in the water.

“We got a couple of our men to come out and secure the area and, while we were fencing it off, we got another phone call to say the person they had found was Trevor.

“It was a bitter blow to the lads as they were having a pint with him in the pub just the night before.

“He was very well-liked and was a character with a great sense of humour.”

Mr Farr moved to Lidget Green, Bradford, three years ago but was better known to people in Clayton, where he lived for nearly 50 years.

His only son, Mark Farr, who lives in Clayton, said: “He was a loving dad and did his best to help anyone.

“I have spoken to the coroner and it was due to the heart attack. The water had nothing to do with his death.

“To sum it up, he passed away with a belly full of beer and a smile on his face after having a few Christmas drinks with a few close friends.”

Police are appealing for witnesses to the incident and particularly want to speak to a man who was walking in front of the deceased. Call Sergeant Phil Jagger at Bradford South CID on 0854 60 60 606.