Friends in relief over Laura jury

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FRIENDS of Scarborough hairdresser Laura Smith have paid tribute to their “irreplaceable” colleague after the man convicted of her murder was jailed for life.

FRIENDS of Scarborough hairdresser Laura Smith have paid tribute to their “irreplaceable” colleague after the man convicted of her murder was jailed for life.

Staff at Hair by Helena revealed they are still heartbroken at the 29-year-old mother’s death but were relieved her ex-partner had been brought to justice.

Nigel Pickard, 45, of Filey Road, was sentenced after a jury at Leeds Crown Court found him guilty of strangling Miss Smith at her home in Southwold Rise, Eastfield, in July last year.

Helena Scott, manager of the Westborough-based salon where Laura had worked since she was 16, said the verdict had given them comfort.

She said: “We all miss Laura so much in the salon and as a friend and we can never replace her.

“You only had to meet her once and you never forgot her.

“She was a very special person.

“We miss her personality and talk about her all the time, that is something I encourage the girls to do.

“Laura had a great personality and we all remember the funny things she said and I used to say to her ‘do not ever change, Laura’.

“She had that fun side and the banter, that is what we miss in the salon.

“Laura had names for everyone, for us and her clients, they were a bit of fun and a laugh because that is the sort of girl she was. She would even remember clients’

birthdays and bring cards to work for them.”

Mrs Scott, who gave evidence during the five-day trial, said the verdict had given a sense of closure to what had been a horrific period for Laura’s family and friends.

Her parents, Colin and Trish Smith, are now raising Laura’s one-year-old daughter Olivia, and Mrs Scott said the sentence would allow them to focus entirely on caring for their granddaughter.

She said: “In our hearts we knew that he was guilty of what he did and the verdict is such a relief for Laura’s mum and dad.

“Their thoughts are with Olivia now and the verdict gives them time and at least lets them know that he will not be there for at least 15 years, that is a big relief for them.

“I would lay in bed at night thinking what actually happened, what really went on?

“But all the questions are answered now.

“It was said in court that Laura was keeping things from Nigel but she didn’t keep anything from anyone, there were no secrets and she didn’t shout or swear either.

“Laura did not like confrontation, she would not have caused all of this, she was not that type of person.”

Mrs Scott also revealed a trust fund to support Laura’s daughter Olivia was now close to reaching the £18,000 mark.

The fund was set up by her colleagues in the days after her death and all of the money raised will be ringfenced under the control of a board of trustees.

Mrs Scott added: “It is just amazing and we are going to continue fundraising.

“People actually just walk into the shop and give some money, no matter how big or small the donation, and we have even had people who have set up direct debit accounts to donate to it too.

“It is in memory of Laura because everyone loved her.”

Mrs Scott revealed the fund had been boosted by an £800 donation from Newcastle Law Courts from a raffle organised by one of Laura’s friends.

She added there will also be a coffee morning and cake stall at Park Manor Hotel, in Northstead Manor Drive, on Saturday, February 5, to raise money for the trust fund.

The event will take place between 10am and 12.30pm and everyone is welcome.