The family of Chesterfield man Leon Pirdue has described him as a 'caring' person who was 'loved by so many' - and told of their shock after the woman accused of murdering him was acquitted.
Emergency services found Mr Pirdue's body inside a house on Chiltern Close, Loundsley Green, on September 17 last year.
The 32-year-old father, of Racecourse Road, Newbold, died of a single stab wound to the chest.
Jade Grant, 26, of Chiltern Close, Loundsley Green, was subsequently charged with his murder. A 32-year-old man arrested at the time was released without charge.
Yesterday, Derby Crown Court confirmed that a jury found Ms Grant not guilty of murder after a trial which lasted nearly two weeks.
In a statement issued to the Derbyshire Times this afternoon, Mr Pirdue's family told of their 'total shock' and surprise at the verdict.
The statement added: "Leon wasn't a violent thug.
"He made mistakes in his time but that wasn't him as a person.
"He was caring and had respect and manners - he was the type of person who would get off a seat to let someone else sit down.
"He dressed up as Santa one year for his eldest son and nephews and crept downstairs in the night to put presents under the tree just to put a smile on all their faces.
"He'd do anything to see all the kids happy.
"He was loved and still is loved by so many people and he adored his family and friends.
"He didn't deserve this.
"We're all still in complete shock.
"His three-year-old son cries every day for his daddy to come back.
"He'll say, 'please, mummy, I want daddy, please' - it's totally heartbreaking.
"We don't know how we're meant to move on from this but we'd like to say thank you to everyone for the support and believing in Leon.
"We lost a dad, a partner, a son, a brother, an uncle, a grandchild, a nephew and a great friend.
"His memory will always live on."
'No recollection of how he had been wounded'
The Derby Crown Court trial heard how Ms Grant allegedly stabbed Mr Pirdue to death with a steak knife in her kitchen.
According to the court, Ms Grant had been at a party at Old Whittington Social Club and returned home with friends for an after-party and Mr Pirdue arrived in the early hours of September 17 last year.
The trial heard Ms Grant and Mr Pirdue subsequently started arguing after he accused her of spreading rumours about him cheating on his girlfriend.
Prosecuting barrister Michael Auty QC claimed that Ms Grant confessed to a paramedic that she had killed Mr Pirdue and that she was going to prison.
The court also heard how newsagent Steve Monk, who runs a nearby McColl's shop, saw Jade Grant come into his shop looking for help shortly after the alleged murder and he recalled that she said, 'Steve, I need your help', and something along the lines of, 'I have injured someone, I think he is dead'.
Ms Grant, who denied murder, later claimed to police that Mr Pirdue attacked her and she had been knocked unconscious.
She stated that she had no recollection of how he had been wounded and she had woken to find him on top of her.
The jury was asked to consider whether Ms Grant acted in self-defence or that the stabbing may not have been committed by her or it was accidental.
Now acquitted of murder, Ms Grant - who spent almost a year remanded in custody - has been able to leave court a free woman.
The Derbyshire Times will make attempts to speak to Ms Grant.