The family of a woman from Greenock who was found dead on the grounds of a church have paid tribute to their “cherished” daughter.
Colette Law was found dead in a tent in Lincolnshire on July 17, 2023.
The 26-year-old’s body lay undiscovered for a week at St Mary and St Nicolas Church in Spalding before being found by paramedics, who were searching for someone else.
Paul Neilson, 30, was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison after admitting to assault and perverting the course of justice by preventing her body from being found.
He persistently told people that she had returned to Scotland, but later admitted knowing that she had died in the tent and deliberately failed to alert any authorities.
Neilson was initially charged with murder but the charges were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.
In a statement released through Lincolnshire Police, Ms Law’s mum, Trisha, and father John said: “Colette Helen Marie Law was our youngest daughter, her loss has been unbearable.
“Our lives are and never will be the same again, it feels like we have lost a limb. Her older sisters, Jennifer and Patricia miss her so much.
“When we had Colette we thought she would be a boy, but when she arrived we were overjoyed.
“Colette was happy and outgoing, her laugh was infectious, you couldn’t help but laugh with her, even if you had no idea what she was laughing at.
“Colette always loved her purple hair, her favourite colour was purple. She loved to sing and do karaoke. She was funny, she was the life and soul of the family. She would sing her songs and dance.
“Every corner we turn she is there. When we are driving in the car with the radio on, we always hear songs that remind us of her. She loved to sing and would sing her heart out. There’s not an hour that goes by that doesn’t remind us of Colette – Her favourite songs, her favourite things, her videos.
“We spent so much time together, she always came on holiday to Portugal with us, she was our sidekick on work nights out and long weekends away with friends.
“Colette has left us with lots of amazing memories, ones we will never forget. Even something as simple as making the gravy reminds us of her, she would always have to make it for us to avoid the lumps of her mum’s gravy making. We are sure that the gravy at Christmas would have not been up to Colette’s standard but it is yet another memory that we hold dear.
“Her amazing TikTok videos still make us smile and laugh, and although we can’t be with Colette she is still with us every day.
“Everyone in Greenock loved Colette, the community all knew her. Everyone misses her and has supported us through all of this. They all miss her. She made a huge impression on everyone she met and the Spalding community have been a great comfort throughout this, with the care and kindness that they gave Colette in the three months she lived there.
“Even when she was miles away we were in contact all the time, so many times a day, we always spoke even when she’d not got her own phone she would find a way to speak with us.
“The last three years of Colette’s life was not what parents would wish for their daughter. Colette had everything; a roof over her head, good friends and family around her.
“All she ever wanted was to love and be loved back. She wanted to be a wee mum, have a nice house and now we will never know how she would have turned out because she was never given the chance.
“Colette is the first to pass in our family. We will never forget Colette, she was our beautiful daughter and best friend and will live on in our memories forever.”
Ms Law’s exact cause of death was not able to be established due to a delayed post mortem after the delay in locating her body.
Neilson was sentenced to one charge of assault by beating, two charges of actual bodily harm, and one charge or perverting the course of justice.
Detective Inspector, Adrian Czajkowski, who led the investigation said: “As we quickly and thoroughly progressed our investigation, we started to uncover a pattern of assault.
“He was a domestic abuse perpetrator, very simply.
“We found that he had assaulted her in the days before her death, as well as perverted the cause of justice, and new charges were filed.
“This discovery was largely down to the tremendous response by members of the community who came forward with their accounts of witnessing altercations, as well as other intelligence – for that, we want to say a very big thank you.
“Without their input, we would never have been able to find any level of justice of Colette and her family. And now I must pay tribute to them.
“They have handled what is the worst thing a family can handle, with dignity and strength.”
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