FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to 66-year-old Peter Avis, who was found stabbed at his flat above family-owned jewellers Collis and Sons.
Mr Avis, whose body was discovered by police on January 13, was described as a very private man with a passion for Rolls Royce cars whose family jewellery business was everything to him.
Mr Avis remained a bachelor through, living alone above his beloved jewellers.
An often eccentric man, friends say he had a keen sense of humour and an infectious laugh.
A cousin of Mr Avis, who asked not to be named, said on behalf of his family: “Peter Avis was rather eccentric but a gentle old-fashioned and private man.
“His life was centred around his shop and flat, due to this he was perhaps extremely vulnerable.
“We are all devastated by this sad news.”
Friend Nigel Finch said he would miss Mr Avis very much, saying although he had become very frail over the past few years he was a very clever man and ‘as sharp as a button’.
He said: “We go back years.
“I must have known him for all of 40 years – maybe even more than that.
“I used to pop in and see him every two or three weeks.
“Peter was a very private person, he didn’t really know that many people.
“I shall miss the old boy terribly, I was his friend.
“He had a Rolls Royce out the back in his garage – he was very interested in his cars.
“I have had a few of them over the years and he knew everything about them all – he even knew which models came in which colours.
“Although I used to chat with him about our cars he never once let me see his.
“Although he could not walk very well, upstairs his mind was incredibly alert.
“He was as sharp as a button, a very clever man.
“He also had a great sense of humour and had a very infectious laugh.
“I suppose he was a little bit eccentric.
“He liked to keep himself to himself and didn’t really mix that much with other people.
“I knew his mother and father, you used to see his father’s Bentley parked outside their house.
“You could almost describe his mother and father as gentry – a lady and a gentlemen.
“His mother was a very smart woman, she even used to get dressed up to go to the butchers.”
Childhood friend Christopher Lacey, who used to own Barwells shop opposite Collis and Sons on Abbeygate Street, said the jewellery store meant everything to Mr Avis.
He said: “We had known each other since we were kids – I was about 10 when we first met.
“His parents were friends with my father’s brother and his wife.
“He was always slightly eccentric, even as a child.
“The jewellery store was his life – it was everything to him.
“In fact, his mother sent him to London when he was a young man to learn the jewellery trade.
“I am horrified at what has happened.
“I walked past Abbeygate Street the morning it had happened and saw the tent and thought ‘oh, no not Peter’.
“I had a horrible feeling as soon as I saw it.
“He had become fairly reclusive as he got older but was quite an outgoing fellow as a middle aged chap.
“Most importantly, he was a very nice fellow and he we always chatted when we saw each other.
“We of course shared a common interest in retail as I was based opposite at what was Barwells.
“He was always a bit of a one-off – but an incredibly nice man.
“It is a complete tragedy what has happened.”
Flowers and cards had been left outside Collis and Sons on Abbeygate Street next to the police forensics tent.
One card read: “I am so sorry to hear that your life has been stolen from you in this terrible way.
“May you rest in peace now.
“My thoughts and prayers are with you.”