After the hearing, a statement read out on behalf of Melissa’s family by her grandfather, Robert Lloyd, said: “Melissa was a vivacious outgoing girl, nothing got her down and she strived to achieve the best in life. She passed her florist grades with plans of one day opening her own flower shop.
“She absolutely doted on her children. She was a big family person. She loved all occasions and was always the first at the door with flowers and gifts. Her family was everything to her.
“Melissa had a real charge for love, a really happy person.
“Through this we have tragically lost Melissa’s brother Liam. They were exceptionally close. He was a pure soul. He had a quiet gentle nature but after what happened to Melissa he couldn’t’ find peace and we had to watch him fade away.
“The night we lost Mel, it was like we lost them both, he couldn’t accept she was gone.
“We are living with such mixed emotions and during this we have been unable to grieve.
“We would like to try and move on with Melissa and Liam in our hearts and memories, and would ask that our family is left to grieve in private.”
Detective Chief Inspector Andy Fairlamb, of Northumbria Police, said: “We accept the outcome of the court today. This man has taken a young woman from her family and loved ones and my deepest sympathies remain with them.
“This has been a difficult ordeal for the family. They have been exceptionally brave throughout this case and I hope today brings the closure they need to be able to move on with their lives.”