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Ms Gowing's body has never been fully recovered, although remains were found at two rural locations near her home in Flintshire, and on the banks of the River Dee near Chester.
The vet's disappearance in Flintshire last October sparked North Wales Police's largest ever search operation.
47 year old Clive Sharp, of no fixed address, pleaded guilty to her murder at Mold Crown Court last month.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Griffith Williams told Sharp: "This is a horrific, cold hearted murder, carried out to gratify your perverted sexual desires.''
Outside court, Catherine's sister, Emma Gowing led the tributes. In a statement, she said:
"Truth is truth. The facts are the facts. Our humanity shines when we conduct ourselves with kindness, with integrity, when we speak the truth.
"Catherine, my sister, was brutally murdered. That is a fact. "Catherine conducted her life with kindness, with compassion, with integrity. That is the truth.
"The book of evidence painstakingly compiled by North Wales Police was based entirely on the facts. It resulted in a guilty plea by the defendant.
"That is a good thing.
"Our world is now a safer place, Catherine is happy that this is so.
"Catherine was an exceptional woman. She lived her life spreading compassion and love.
"She conducted her life in accordance with this quote from Albert Pine, 'what we do for ourselves dies with us, what we do for others and the world is and remains immortal'.
"She was our light; she shone very brightly and enriched the lives of all she encountered, all God's creatures.
"That light is gone from our world.
"It now shines elsewhere.''