THE brother of tragic cliff-fall victim Paul Nichol today told how a short cut home led to his death.
Kevin Nichol, 21, painfully relived the horrifying moment he saw his brother plunge 30ft as they made their way home from Whitburn and Marsden Golf Club on Monday night.
They had been for a drink and decided, for the first time, to take a short cut across the golf course to get home.
Their preferred route was to walk down Lizard Lane, then Prince Edward Road.
In darkness, the brothers headed across fields with only a small torch to guide them.
Kevin, of Bolingbroke Street, South Shields, said: "I had a small light on my keyring, so I was walking in front.
"I remember there were a couple of humps in the path, then I just heard a scream. I turned around and saw Paul go by me, falling over the side.
"I heard him screaming, then nothing. I started shouting but I didn't get a response.
"I phoned an ambulance and tried to get to him as quickly as possible – I could barely walk. I put him in the recovery position and was talking to the 999 operator, who was telling me what to do, then Paul stopped breathing."
Kevin was told to leave the former pub boss, who lived with his parents, Alan and Christine and brother Tony in Lynwood Way, Cleadon Park, South Shields, and find paramedics struggling to locate him.
"I didn't want to leave him," he said. "I got to the paramedic as fast as I could.
"When they were working on him, I heard someone say something about a brain trauma, then I was asked to go in the police car."
Their parents were just going to bed when a "hysterical" Kevin rang to tell them what had happened.
Alan, 55, a taxi driver, said: "We rushed to the hospital and waited for an ambulance to turn up, but none came.
"We called the police and they sent two officers to see us and it was then they told us Paul was dead – we just went into shock."
Further heartache was piled on the family just hours after they left South Tyneside District Hospital, when rumours started circulating that Mr Nichol had committed suicide.
His mother said: "It was on Tuesday morning when we were told of the rumours. It just made me sick. It really hurt all of us."
Mr Nichol, father to 10-year-old Kate and six-year-old Ryan, had been looking forward to starting a new chapter in his life.
The former Whitburn School pupil had recently split up with the mother of his two children, but there were hopes the pair would be reconciled.
He had also been on the lookout for a new job and was getting into the gym. He was also planning a trip to Liverpool with Tony.
The brothers were all keen computer games players and would often meet online to play against each other.
Mrs Nichol, 51, said: “The three of them were like The Three Amigos when they got older.
“Paul was always the tidiest one out of them and was so affectionate. He was also a very hands-on dad.”
Tony added: “He was very outgoing and had a great sense of humour. He also made the best coffee in the world – even though he never drank it.”
Kevin added: “Anybody who spent time in his presence always felt safe. He was just brilliant.”
n The Gazette has opened an online book of condolence, where friends and families can pay their own respects to Mr Nichol.
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