Devastated dad Darren Hallett pays tribute to Belinda Dalby, who was found dead in Southampton hostel

Daily Echo: Belinda Dalby playing with her dad's cat Lucky Belinda Dalby playing with her dad's cat Lucky

SHE was the daughter he had only just met – now she has been taken away from him for ever.

The devastated father of a young woman who died at a Southampton hostel will today make an emotional journey which would break any parent’s heart – to see his daughter’s body.

Darren Hallett yesterday drove more than 220 miles to the city in the wake of daughter Belinda Dalby’s death.

He arrived just hours after a man appeared in court charged with her murder.

The 26-year-old former Alderman Quilley pupil’s body was found in Jordan House, Millbrook Road East, Southampton, at 6.25pm on Friday.

Darren, 46, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, only met Belinda, originally from Eastleigh, for the first time when she was 18 after his relationship with her mother ended before she was born.

Recalling the time he received a letter from her requesting to meet, he said: “I was so overjoyed and happy after all those years.

“I wanted to do all I could because although buildings burn and bridges fall, true love lasts forever.

“To have her taken away again now just isn’t right.

“No parent should have to bury their child.”

The pair finally met at Eastleigh railway station, the first of regular visits culminating in Belinda living with Darren for a short period in his former flat in Weston and again while he was living in Portswood Road.

One of his most cherished moments was a Christmas they spent together when she spent much of her time playing with his cat Lucky, which features in a photograph of Belinda released by her family.

Darren last spoke to her in March and he added: “She was her same old self.

She was fine and said she wanted to sort herself out and then would come up and see me for a holiday.

“She was always so friendly, bubbly and a very loving person, especially when it came to her family and animals.”

Yesterday Jamie Nicholson appeared at Southampton Magistrates’ Court accused of Belinda’s murder.

Nicholson, 30, of no fixed address, wore a dark blue T-shirt and trousers and spoke only to confirm his date of birth at the two-minute hearing.

Magistrates remanded him in custody to appear at Winchester Crown Court tomorrow.

Belinda’s family paid tribute to her, describing her as a “bubbly” and “popular”

person.

Her sister Shannon, 20, said she was “really outgoing and was the life and soul”.

Belinda had been staying at Jordan House for a couple of months, having moved around a number of times in recent years.

She leaves four siblings – Shannon, Christopher, Madeleine and Marc – dad and step-mum Grant and Theresa Barrass, and grandmother Ruth Murry, who all still live in the Eastleigh area, as well as mum Sandy Ablewhite, who lives in Brighton.

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