EXCLUSIVE: 'Why was he served alcohol?'
THIS IS 16-year-old Paddy Higgins, pictured with friends drinking spirits he was illegally sold just hours before he fell off a cliff in Newquay after a booze-fuelled night in the town.
His distraught family have now branded the town "not safe for teenagers" and revealed that the baby-faced 16-year-old and friends were repeatedly served strong spirits in the hours before he died.
As pressure grows on Newquay to clean up its image, his stepmother yesterday revealed that he had been served spirits in a restaurant before he died, despite not looking old enough to drink.
Paddy, from Wokingham, Berkshire, was celebrating the end of his GCSE exams with friends when he fell after a night out in the seaside town on Sunday. He was discovered dead at the base of 70ft cliffs on Tolcarne beach.
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Shireen Higgins, his stepmother, yesterday told the Western Morning News: "Paddy was a big lad, but he had only just started shaving and some of his friends look nowhere near 18.
"Back at home he wouldn't have been able to get served anywhere. But he was served a round of sambucas in the restaurant.
"The mayor says the town has a strict ID policy but we know that is not true."
The family is demanding the town sharpens up its act to prevent any more tragedies, and have launched a campaign group on social networking website Facebook calling for parents to boycott the area until it changes.
"We cannot bring Paddy back but if we can stop other families going through what we are going through something positive can come from what has happened," Mrs Higgins said.
Paddy was with a mixed group of friends staying at a campsite near Newquay, which organises buses to ferry campers into town. They had enjoyed a night on the town before the tragedy occurred. Mrs Higgins said that she was amazed at the ease at which the boys had been served alcohol.
Paddy's family is still in shock at his death. His father John and mother Maria are understandably distraught, as are the blond teenager's two sisters, Rebecca and Eve, stepsisters Naomi and Alexandra, and stepbrother Tom.
Naomi set up the Facebook group, titled "Boycott Newquay holidays for teenagers" and it already has more than 1,000 members. A tribute group on the website for the teenager has more than 1,400 members.
Paddy had just finished his GCSEs at The Forest School in Winnersh.
In a comment on the story on the Western Morning News' website – www.thisiswesternmorningnews.co.uk – Mrs Higgins wrote: "My 16-year-old wonderful stepson has just been killed in Newquay after a night out where he had readily been served spirits in a Newquay restaurant despite no ID.
"Newquay is NOT safe for teenagers, DO NOT LET YOUR CHILDREN GO THERE. Join our BOYCOTT by joining our Facebook group, thanks for your support."
Mrs Higgins added: "We are not saying that the youth of today are perfect, far from it – they want it all and now, and don't understand the consequences.
"However, as responsible adults we should be able to let our children roam safely and protect them from businesses and towns such as Newquay exploiting this young generation who are currently having to learn the most tragic way possible of what can happen if you do get it all too soon and too young."
Paddy was the second youngster to fall off cliffs in the town in as many weeks.
The tragedy came just eight days after Andrew Curwell, 18, from Saddleworth, Lancashire, was found at the foot of cliffs at nearby Great Western Beach.
The Leeds Rhinos' rugby academy player, was on holiday with friends to celebrate the end of his A-level exams when he fell from the cliffs.
A third teenager was found unconscious near the bottom of cliffs in the town in an unrelated incident.
The 16-year-old plummeted about 70 feet down a 100ft drop near the Atlantic Hotel in Newquay and was thought he may have been there all night.
The youngster, from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, suffered serious injuries, including a broken neck.
The Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/groups.php#/group.php?gid=106169610893