SHATTERED Victoria Wilkinson today described the moment police told her a body found in the Wear was believed to be her missing husband.
The wife and mother has been desperately clinging to hopes that husband Paul, 38, would return home after disappearing more than two weeks ago.
But her worst fears appear to have been confirmed after a body, understood to be Paul, was discovered in the Wear, close to the Ropery pub in Deptford.
Speaking to the Echo Victoria, 28, said: “I’m still in total shock and none of this seems real at all. I can’t get my head around it.
“I had to hope that he was still kicking about somewhere and he’d just come back.
“I prayed that everything would be alright but on Tuesday teatime the police came round and said they’d found a body and they thought it’s Paul.
“I just can’t believe it. It isn’t sinking in.”
Police were called to the river after a concerned member of the public reported seeing a man in the water. Emergency services attended the riverside at about 3.30pm on Tuesday and the body was pulled from the water.
Although tests are currently being carried out to formally identify the body, the Echo understands it is the missing dad.
Victoria said: “I just don’t know what’s going on in my head.”
The 38-year-old dad said he was popping out to nearby shops when he left the family home in Elmwood Avenue, Marley Pots, on the morning of May 13.
His family and Sunderland detectives launched a huge manhunt to trace Paul as fears for his welfare grew.
Paul was suffering from depression after losing his job making car parts for Nissan just weeks earlier and was taking medication, which he left behind.
Victoria, 28, who married Paul in August after a two-and-a-half year relationship, said: “I put the thought that he might be dead out of my mind.”
Victoria described SAFC-mad Paul, who is dad to 18-month-old Aaron with Victoria and also has three other sons, as “loving”, “funny” and “kind”.
“He was always so caring and loving. He adored his family and was funny and kind. We will miss him so much.
“At the moment I’ve got my family around me who are giving me all the support they can,” Victoria, who is also mum to Bethany, Molly and LJ, said.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said there was no third party involvement in the death.