Family of missing father are told of body find at dock

Paul Tillyer (centre) pictured with his son Matt  and daughter Georgia Watts
Paul Tillyer (centre) pictured with his son Matt and daughter Georgia Watts

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A HEARTBROKEN daughter says she can finally move on after police found a body believed to be her missing father.

Georgia Watts last saw her father Paul Tillyer at a family party at her pub, the historic Red Lion, in Chalton, Horndean, on Christmas Day.

The 64-year-old lived on his motorboat, Lady of Bali, in Town Quay, Southampton. He was captured on CCTV leaving a restaurant in the city on December 28 but despite a large-scale operation, which included underwater searches by specialist marine police, no trace of him was found.

Mrs Watts, a mother of two, said she has been told by police they are 99.9 per cent sure that a body found at Dock Head, in Southampton on Sunday morning is that of her father.

She said: We prepared ourselves for what we thought had happened but just when you think you’ve overcome the grief you get that call and it comes full pelt and smacks you straight in the face.

‘But the nightmares of him floating in the water have gone and we know that he is in a safe place now and we can see him off properly.’

Mrs Watts said the family always believed her father had fallen into the water from the slippery pontoon where his boat was moored because he had fallen in before.

‘I always said to dad it was how he would meet his end because when they’re icy they’re so slippery,’ said Mrs Watts.

‘His shopping bags were on the side of the boat. He would always put his bags on and climb up.

‘There’s nothing suspicious about it, it’s just a really, really sad accident.’

Mr Tillyer was a former police officer who went on to own three garages. He was a well-known figure in Southampton and had lived on his boat for 20 years.

His daughter added: ‘He was larger than life. He reminded me of a cross between Sean Connery and Pavarotti. He always did everything to the extreme. Whenever you were with him you knew you were going to have a laugh.

‘We’re going to give him a real dad-style send off.’