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EXCLUSIVE: 'Why was he served alcohol?'

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: July 09, 2009

  • Paddy Higgins is served alcohol

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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.

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

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    L Edwards, London  |  January 04 2010, 9:29PM

    My 15 year old son ran away last night because I would not let him go to Newquay, all his friends are currently booking for this summer. There is so much peer pressure at the moment. If you don't go you - you are not in the 'in crowd'. I saw on facebook last summer the caravans stacked to the ceiling with cans of alcohol, that many of the children were boasting that they had purchased. I didn't feel it was safe for my son to on a holiday like this supervised or unsupervised. Now my son hates me, and I don't know where he is.

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    Some Girl, Wokingham  |  December 17 2009, 4:33PM

    i wish i could put into words how much not only me but everyone who knew you how much we wish you were here with us now and its nearly christmas WOW this is gonna be a hard one :( but just because you are gone doesnt me we dont think of you every single day. God chose a pretty perfect angel to have by his side..sweet dreams sweetie see ya soon x

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    none, reading  |  August 03 2009, 11:22PM

    reply to comment no1 paddy went to my school and he was clever nice and kind. u think u are perfect he was a nice boy and every child of 16 years of age drinks. it was unforeanut and deversating wot happend.the fencing levels is descusting and to be frank deadly i hate the fact it happend to such a inasent person. R.I.P paddy higens

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    charlotte, bristol  |  July 21 2009, 9:40PM

    why can under eighteens rent apartments,campsites and caravan sites? whenever I have booked holidays all over the country never have they been available to this age group.If they have no where to stay they wont come.Newquay needs to ask itself why they allow this practice.Why have the cliffs only got a waist height fence railway tracks near us have 8 ft high fences.Raise the fences,light the area and increase the warning signs.I would like to send my condolences to the teenagers family.

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    JCH, Berks  |  July 20 2009, 5:42PM

    My son and friends were in Newquay the week before Paddy's death. They had a great time, they didnt spend the week getting blind drunk, they enjoyed the beach, they went to the under 18 parties in the clubs and ALL came back safe and sound. They are not perfect, they may have had drink, they may not. None of them have been in trouble in their home town for any such behaviour and they were deemed sensible enough to be allowed to go away for the week. My son contacted me every night when he got in and they had a contact living in Newquay should they have needed it. At 16 they are apparently old enough to have sex, get married and leave school (probably in that order). Yet some people call them children ! Some airlines deem them adults at 12! Maybe it would be easier if an adult was 18 for EVERYTHING. However, an 18 yr old went over the cliff two weeks before and died too. Young people have a different take on alcohol these days, that is what is so appalling. That is what was responsible here. The cliffs have always been there, yes they are dangerous but you cannot take away all danger. People, young and old have to DEAL WITH IT. BE RESPONSIBLE AROUND IT. Put up a fence and it will make it even further to fall, because they will still climb, even more so when they've been drinking. Perhaps alcohol should just be routinely taken off people, any age, in the street as they do outside the football club we support. These young people could just have easily have staggered off a kerb into the path of a car, under the influence of alcohol and died. Would we be calling for all roads to be fenced ? Two men, I think in early 20's got blind drunk in Somerset and walked into the sea and were washed up later. If people can be responsible enough to legally marry and bring children into the world, should they not be allowed, IF DEEMED SENSIBLE ENOUGH, to go on a holiday ? If not, then maybe the accommodation should not accept their bookings under 18. I would not have allowed my elder son to go away at the same age, but my younger one is very different. The owner of the accommodation was perfectly happy with our group of youngsters and their behaviour. I refuse to regard myself as an irresponsible parent. We all make choices, the youngsters included.

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    liz cory, United Kingdom  |  July 16 2009, 11:02AM

    if the youngsters from a quiet cornish village go to a city to celebrate, get drunk , stagger out of a club into the road and get killed by a passing car, should all the pavements in the city have railings erected?? ludicrous suggestion?? so is fencing the cliffs around Newquay. Most areas around the town are already fenced and many of the 'casualties' have deliberately climbed over them !! the majority of youths who come to Newquay are just out for a good time and get blamed for the behaviour of the irresponsible few.. but when it comes to unruly drunken behaviour look to your own towns... that's where all our young visitors come from!!

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    kay, newquay  |  July 15 2009, 1:26PM

    i have been reading the memorial site for paddy, youths on there expressing their condolences admitting to drinking alcohol on the way down to newquay on the train. i cannot understand the parents letting their 16/17 year olds holiday unsupervised, thats just asking for trouble. the law clearly states parents are responsible for their child until the age of 18, so why does paddys stepmother and father feel newquay is responsible for their sons death, probably guilt and instead of looking nearer to home its easier to put the blame elswhere. i find newquay very strict with the licencing law and most shops dont sell to under 25s, but this wont deter a teenager from trying every trick in the book to purchase booze. this is a tragedy and everyone in newquay sympathises with paddys friends and family but dont blame the town or the locals for this accident when the parents allowed their son to be here. we are not babysitters!

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    Pawl, Kernow  |  July 14 2009, 8:09PM

    Are the police to investigate the parents for not showing proper care of a 16 year old ? He was, after all, still classed as a young person being under the age of 17 years. The parents must be called to account for allowing this to happen.

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    Grace, Truro  |  July 14 2009, 12:10PM

    Please note that i have the utmost respect for anyone who has lost a relative esp a child and this comment is in no way meant to offend or point fingers. Firstly why would anyone let a group of 16yr olds fresh out of school go to Newquay where you know they will get drunk, go clubbing and are surrounded by water & cliffs, its no secret that the town has become well known for rowdy nights. I have two teenage sisters who i would never put in that situation. Secondly i used to be a barmaid in a big club in Newquay and we were tiold we had to I.D anyone who looked under 25! we also had police visits and even tho I.D at the door i still I.D them incase of dodgy doorman. Having hosted an under 18's night one girl was so paraletically drunk before doors opended at 9! she was not allowed in. The fact is kids & adults are under the impression that getting bladdered is fun, having a drink & get so drunk you cannot remember are two different things & people forget that. We keep telling kids not to drink, wrong, you can drink once old enough & causually, its not a facebook competition!! Newquay is just the same as any other resort that is hit by tourists & whilst people screem of exploitation the fact is people in Conrwall need to live & work & if there is a demand for booze & sleezy clubs you cannot blame people for providing it. If people are so against it, dont go there or send your kids. If we supply a demand they will provide a supply. Please do not target Newquay, generations of local kids have become adults, drunk & not fallen off cliffs & you cannot line the cliffs with police thats daft. Has anyone even mentioned where this lads mates were at the time???

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    vixiy, newquay  |  July 13 2009, 11:07AM

    i work in a shop in newquay i have asked for id form people upto 30 i think it is unfair for them to blame the town for there son's behavor. 16 is too young to be on holiday with out supervition and we all seem to be forgetting thta at 16 you can have a drink with a meal in a reausaraunt that is no illigal. i have walked allond those cliffs and actually tolcarne has fences all around and signs warning of dangerous drops its not newquay who needs blaming.