THE son of "Scottish Phil" has paid tribute to his “best friend and confidant” on the day his murderer has been handed a life sentence.

Lee Clarke, 56 of Wedhey, Harlow appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court today where he was sentenced to life in prison, to serve a minimum of 20 years.

The sentence follows a four-week trial where a jury found Clarke guilty of murder, after killing his friend Phillip Lewis in Harlow in 2022. 

Epping Forest Guardian: Jailed - Lee Clarke was handed a life sentenceJailed - Lee Clarke was handed a life sentence (Image: Essex Police)

Following the sentencing, Phillip’s son, Connor Lewis paid tribute to his dad: “The man everyone knew as Phillip Lewis, I knew as ‘Dad’

“He was kind, caring and friendly. A stranger was always a friend. My life will be forever changed because of the actions of one man. 

“My dad Phillip will never see his grandchild's beautiful smile and see them grow up and have days out at the park, zoo, seaside and be a Grandad.

 “My dad enjoyed gardening and he was animal lover and music lover and loved to travel around the UK.

“Phillip loved to cook and enjoyed a variety of food. My dad was interested in antiques, loved motor mechanics and movies of all kinds.

“Phillip's good friends will miss my dad's kindness and cheeky character and his visiting them and sharing funny stories and having good times. 

“The family across the UK have old memories, happy and sad, good times, and bad times.

“I will miss my dad's voice at the end of the phone and our time together. My dad was not only my dad he was my best friend and confidant.

“I loved my dad to the moon and back and my life will be empty without 'pops' in it.

 “His body may be gone but my pops spirit will always be with me and the family and his good friends.

“Pops we all miss you and love you.”

Phillip, 59, who was known in Harlow as "Scottish Phil", went missing in November.

His remains were located at Oakwood Pond in the town on New Years' Eve.

Following the discovery, a large investigation was launched by Essex and Kent Serious Crime Directorate.

Within four days of the discovery, Phillip had been identified and Clarke had been arrested on suspicion of his murder.

After being charged with murder, he was remanded into custody.

Underwater searches at multiple locations in Harlow formed an integral part of efforts to locate evidence. These searches resulted in the recovery of more human remains belonging to Phil.

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Detective Superintendent Rob Kirby said: “Known locally as Scottish Phil, he lived in Harlow for many years before his life was cruelly cut short at the hands of Clarke.

“As unforgivable as this is, Clarke then went on to dismember the body and make several trips to local ponds and lakes to dispose of it piece by piece. It is simply incomprehensible, how somebody can do that to another human being.

“His actions have meant that despite painstaking searches over several weeks, we have not been able to recover all of Phillip’s remains. Clarke could have assisted us in order that Phil’s family could lay him to rest – but he instead chose to remain silent.

“Clarke thought that he had covered his tracks but forensic officers were able to find important evidence within Clarke’s flat showing that Phil had been killed there.

“I hope that today’s conviction/sentence will give Phil’s family some comfort in knowing his killer is behind bars where he belongs.

“This was a substantial homicide investigation involving teams from across Essex Police coming together to bring about this conviction. I want to particularly praise the search and dive teams who spent weeks conducting fingertip searches of dredged ponds which presented significant challenges.

“I want to thank the residents of Harlow. When this murder was reported, you came together as a strong community, showing the true spirit of the town. The residents around Oakwood Pond endured weeks of police activity, but were welcoming and understanding of the enormity of the task.

“Finally, I want to pay tribute to Phil’s family and friends in how they have conducted themselves during this difficult time.”