MOVING tributes have been paid to missing vet Catherine Gowing after an inquest was opened into her death.
Hopes have been dashed that Miss Gowing would be found alive after it was confirmed human remains discovered were those of Miss Gowing.
Yesterday North East Wales acting coroner John Gittins officially confirmed her death for the first time and an inquest was opened and adjourned.
Friends and family in her hometown in County Offaly, Ireland, have been devastated by the news.
Priest Michael O’Meara, from Miss Gowing’s parish church St Flannan’s, in Kinnitty, Birr, told the Leader: “It’s hard to comprehend the gravity of this tragedy to such a lovely person in our community.
“The grief in our community is like being under a cloud. We are just praying for Catherine’s heartbroken family at this very sad time.
“Catherine was known by everyone in the community and really loved. She regularly came back and participated in life in the community. She grew up in Kinnitty and came to mass regularly. She was a good person in every way.”
A post-mortem examination found human remains discovered in a shallow pool in Sealand belonged to the 37-year-old Irish woman.
Coroner Mr Gittins said yesterday: “An inquest has been opened concerning Catherine Ann Gowing, of an address at Cae Isa, New Brighton, Mold, a 37-year-old female.
“Her death was reported to me following findings of human remains at a site in Manor Road, Sealand. The cause of death has been deferred to an inquest.”
Police found the human remains in an area known as the Lum, next to Manor Road, Sealand, and tests confirmed they were Miss Gowing’s at the weekend.
More remains were found on the banks of the River Dee in Ferry Lane, Higher Ferry, on Friday, by an off-duty Cheshire police officer – and these are expected to be identified later this week.
It has not been revealed what the body parts discovered were.
The North West underwater search unit have been at the scene since Friday to carry out a search of the area.
Inspector Dave Corcoran said: “We are a full time police underwater search unit and six police forces of the North West have come together to make a dive unit.”
He said they had started their search early yesterday but had not found anything that day.
The unit has been helping with the search since shortly after Miss Gowing was reported missing on Tuesday, October 16.
Resident Mike Bowyers, who lives in Blacon but often walks along the riverside in Higher Ferry, said: “It’s a bit of a shock knowing they’ve found human remains here. It’s not nice for anyone, especially the family.”
Another resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s terrible. It’s a sad world we’re living in now.”
Forensic officers have also been searching a house in Meadow View, Sealand, as part of their investigations after the remains were found in a nearby pond.
A police spokesman said: “Police are searching a property in Sealand as part of an ongoing search in relation to the investigation.”
Some police remain in Sealand, but on a reduced level.
One resident, who did not wish to be named, said they were relieved most officers had now left the area.
He said: “It was quite intimidating with all the police about asking questions, including children, but I know they have a job to do.”
Miss Gowing was last seen alive leaving the Asda store in Queensferry at about 8.39pm on Friday, October 12. She was carrying a plastic carrier bag and pizza bag.
The alarm was raised when she failed to turn up for work at Evans Veterinary Practice in Mold on Monday, October 15, and a missing person’s appeal was launched the next day.
Officers spent more than two weeks searching quarries and woodland around Pinfold Lane, Alltami, near Mold, after her burnt out Renault Clio was found there.
The search moved to Sealand following new intelligence.
Miss Gowing’s sister Emma has spoken of the family’s devastation and said her sister was the “light” of the family.
Clive Sharp, 46, has been charged with her murder. His case is expected to be heard in January.
Police are still appealing for information, particularly sightings of Miss Gowing’s Irish purple registered Renault Clio 00d 99970 and Clive Sharp’s black Volvo S40 AG58 JHE since Friday, October 12, and particularly in the Sealand area.
Anyone with information should call police on 101.