THE daughters of Clifford Collinge have spoken of their ‘utter sadness and devastation’ at losing ‘the best father anyone could ever have’.
After verdicts were delivered, prosecutor Peter Joyce read out witness impact statements from Julie Bowles (34) - a daughter from Mr Collinge’s first marriage - and Cristal (16) who is also Charlotte Collinge’s daughter.
Mrs Bowles said the impact of the murder will be with her for the rest of her life.
She said: “The man who gave me my first toffee apple, taught me maths, embarrassed me at parents evening and stood by me on my wedding day. How can he have been murdered?
“With this comes utter sadness and devastation. He’s gone. I’ll never again see his smile or get to shout at him for not phoning me. He’ll never again get to do his balloon tricks at my children’s birthday parties.
“He won’t get to see them grow up and they will miss out on the joy of their grandad Cliff.
“It wasn’t his time to die. He still had so much to live for. I needed him and now he’s gone.”
Mrs Bowles also spoke of the terrifying moment she had to identify her father’s body.
She said: “I had to go and see my ‘dear old dad’ as he liked to be called, on a cold tray in clinical conditions. I couldn’t touch him or give him a last kiss goodbye. Although I try so very hard not to remember him in that way, I will never forget how he looked that afternoon or how I couldn’t have anymore time with him.”
Cristal, who has just finished her GCSE exams, said her dad was her ‘whole world’.
She said: “My dad meant everything to me, he was the best father anyone could have. Nothing was too much trouble for dad, he was my hero in every way.
“He was a wonderful and very talented musician, singing songs that spanned back centuries, telling wonderful stories set to the sound of a guitar.
“Every morning I’d wake up for school and dad would be waiting for me with that smile. Dad had a way of standing when he was smiling and he made me feel like nothing in the world could hurt us.”
Cristal spoke of the heartbreak at her dad missing her school prom.
“What made me cry the most was dad not seeing me in my prom dress. That made me feel so sad I could hardly notice I was at the prom, all I could see was dad standing there where all the other parents were waiting for their own children.
“I had no one there to meet me but I know my dad would have been proud of me, just like I’m proud of my dad.
“I only wish those responsible for taking him understand how heavy I feel the loss of my father.”