Man's tribute to murdered sister

PUBLISHED: 10:27 14 July 2011 | UPDATED: 11:43 14 July 2011

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A HEARTBROKEN brother who discovered the body of his 'gentle and kind natured' sister says his family is in 'total devastation' following her tragic death.

Mark Tottle, aged 43, who runs the Royal Oak Stores in Kewstoke, found his sibling, Julia Tottle, known as Julie, at her cottage behind the shop on July 5.

Julia, who lived with her husband Stephen Hotson, died from head injuries following a sustained attack.

Mr Hotson was admitted to hospital on the same day, suffering from injuries after reportedly falling or jumping from one of the cottage’s upstairs windows.

He has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Avon and Somerset Constabulary cordoned off the shop until earlier this week and Mark, who has run the store for about seven years, reopened the village store yesterday (Wed).

Mark said: “Julie was quiet, gentle and kind-natured and she loved her animals.

“The family has just been in total devastation and we are taking each day as it comes, in small steps – but reopening the shop is a big step.

“The whole thing is unbelievable, and the aftermath is just as hard.”

Julia’s mother, 85-year-old Audrey, who lives above the shop, was on holiday in Scotland at the time of the tragic incident.

Mark said she is staying with his other sister, Sally, and may not return to her home to live again.

Mark, who grew up in the area and went to Kewstoke Primary School, said: “It’s just heartbreaking for us, we are a close family – it’s hard not to be when we all live so near to each other.

“Julie never had kids as animals were her babies.

“She loved her horses and cats and even took her horses on holiday with her.

“I am very grateful and so thankful to the people in the village who have been looking after the horses - and they know who they are.”

Mark, who said he has not yet been able to bring himself to read the tributes outside the shop, said he is thankful to all the support from the community.

Earlier this week it is believed police were scouring the hedgerows and rhynes near the murder scene for the blunt instrument believed to have been used to kill a well-liked villager.

Many flowers have been left outside the shop with heartfelt tributes.

One tribute, from the horsey girls from Elmsley Lane, said: “A truly lovely lady who will be sadly missed but always remembered.”

Another said: “Julie, my friend for 30 years, I will miss our chats.

“You didn’t deserve this and I will miss you so much.”

Another tribute said: “Such a lovely lady taken too soon and so tragically.

“You are in our thoughts. Sleep peacefully.”

To leave a tribute to Julie log below and comment

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