A neighbour of the Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire, David Ainsworth, has told of the moment she saw his lifeless body.

Mr Ainsworth, 49, was found hanged in the garage of his cottage in Potterne on Tuesday morning.

The father-of-four, a policeman for 24 years, had been under investigation since September for alleged sexist or bawdy remarks about women at the police headquarters in London Road, Devizes.

Mr Ainsworth, who was separated from his wife, had been moved to a back office job while his conduct was being investigated by South Wales Police.

The officer’s girlfriend, who has not been named, discovered his body hanging in the garage of their home just after 9am and shouted for help.

Neighbour Tracey Mead said: “She had been walking up the lane by her house which was unusual at that time of the morning. She went through the gates turned back on herself and came back towards the garage.

“There was an almighty scream and the next thing she was shouting ‘help help’. I ran straight over and she said ‘he’s hung himself’. I got as far as the gates and looked into the garage and saw his legs from his knees down. His legs were off the floor.

“I rang back to my house and called 999. His girlfriend wanted to get him down and by the time I had rung the police, her dad arrived and they had got him down.”

Ms Mead, 40, said Mr Ainsworth and his girlfriend had lived at the cottage, in Devizes Road, for about a year.

Ms Mead said: “I didn’t know them. She would put her hand up to acknowledge me when we saw each other out but they went off to work separately and came back and shut the gates behind them.

“I’m shocked by what has happened. He must have been so depressed to have hanged himself. I just feel so sorry for her finding him.”

Wiltshire Police has called in an outside force to investigate Mr Ainsworth’s death, which is not being treated as suspicious, and an inquest will be held.

In a joint statement Wiltshire’s Chief Constable Brian Moore and Police From Authority chairman Chris Hoare said: “Our thoughts are very much with David’s family and friends. We are offering them our full support.

“The news of David’s death is clearly a shock to Wiltshire Police and appropriate support is being offered to staff.”

As a mark of respect the force flag at the police HQ was flown at half mast.

As many as 24 allegations are said to have been made against Mr Ainsworth. Among the claims were allegations that he looked at a woman wearing a tailored blouse and remarked “nice buttons.”

Mr Ainsworth joined Wiltshire Police in July 2008 from Kent where he was Assistant Chief Constable.

Speaking to the Gazette following his arrival in Wiltshire, Mr Ainsworth said: “Wiltshire is seen nationally as a small force that punches well above its weight. It has got a fantastic reputation and I am delighted to be here.

“There are many villages in Wiltshire with a distinctive character that I could easily settle in.”

Mr Ainsworth, a keen marathon runner, was nicknamed ‘The Brain’ by colleagues because of his high intellect.

He was the Association of Chief Police Officers’ spokesman on vehicle crime. Sir Hugh Orde, president of ACPO, said Mr Ainsworth’s death was a shock to the policing community.