Northern Ireland

Tributes for Lisburn family after body of missing woman recovered

Mother-of-three Paula Elliott (52) had been missing since March 5

Paula Elliott (52) from Lisburn has been missing for three weeks.
Paula Elliott (52) from Lisburn had been reported missing on March 5.

A postmortem examination is to take place after police recovered a body from the River Lagan believed to be that of missing Lisburn woman Paula Elliott.

Searches and appeals to locate the 52-year-old mother-of-three had continued since she was last seen driving in Lisburn on March 5, with her car discovered by the Lagan Towpath shortly afterwards.

Police confirmed the body of a woman was recovered from the River Lagan on Monday.

Although formal identification had yet to take place, the family of Paula Elliott were informed ahead of a postmortem examination.

On Tuesday, a family member said they were not ready to comment on the news.

Volunteers from the Community Rescue Service said they had located the body on Monday, following weeks of searches along with the members of the Search and Rescue Dog Association and Skywatch.

“The management and volunteers of the Community Rescue Service extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the deceased,” the group posted on Tuesday.

Several MLAs from the Lagan Valley constituency also paid tribute to the family on Tuesday.

The DUP’s Paul Givan called it “devastating news” for Ms Elliott’s family and friends.

Alliance MLA Sorcha Eastwood commented: “Such tragic and heartbreaking news this morning.

“I know the community in Lisburn and further afield will continue to hold Paula’s family very much in their thoughts and prayers in the difficult days, weeks and months ahead and wrap their arms around them in support.

“Thinking sincerely of the family circle at this time and trust that they will be given privacy and space at this difficult time.”

The Ulster Unionist MLA Robbie Butler said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Paula’s family and friends.”

Last week, Ms Elliott’s oldest son Stefin (31) and brother David Birney (45) had thanked rescue volunteers for their efforts to find her.

“It’s not until something like this happens to your family that you realise there are people out there to really want to help and support you,” Mr Elliott told the Irish News.

Holding on to hope at the time, he added: “I just want say mum, you are so very much loved, and we want you to come home.”

Having joined in with searches along the Lagan Towpath and spoken out for public appeals, Mr Birney said his sister had helped to care for their elderly father and that waiting for news of her whereabouts had been especially difficult for the family.

Press Eye - Northern Ireland - 24th March 2024

Paula Elliott’s brother David Bierney (Black Hat)

Volunteers, family and friends continue searching for missing Lisburn woman Paula Elliot at the towpath in Lisburn. 

The 52-year-old was last seen leaving travelling along the Hillsborough Road area of Lisburn at 5.39pm on Tuesday March 5 in her red Citroen C4 which was later parked near the Lagan Towpath.

The PSNI has tasked the charity Community Rescue Service to lead the search for Paula, which has so far focused in around the towpath on the River Lagan, downstream as far as Belfast city centre.

Photograph by Declan Roughan / Press Eye
Paula Elliott’s brother David Birney (Black Hat) had joined volunteers last month for searches along the Lagan Towpath. PICTURE: DECLAN ROUGHAN/PRESS EYE