TRIBUTES were paid today to a stab victim described as “always smiling.”
Andrew Lucas, 20, pictured, was found dying by ambulance crews on a tree-lined path near his home in Washington’s Warkworth Close. But despite their best efforts to save him, he died shortly after reaching the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.
Mark Spalding, 45, of Washington, was arrested by police and has been charged with his murder.
Cliff Torr, who runs CD Property Solutions in Gateshead, employed Andrew as a labourer and said all his colleagues are devastated.
He told the Echo: “He was a great lad. I never saw him when he wasn’t smiling. He was always laughing and joking on with the lads. Everyone loved him.
“I had just come back off holiday and was getting loads of messages telling me what had happened, I just kept hoping they had got it wrong and it wasn’t him.
“It is so, so heartbreaking, he had his whole life ahead of him. He had so much to offer as well.”
Cliff said Andrew was very close to his family and his long-term girlfriend and his thoughts go out to them.
Neighbours living in the Oxclose flats said they heard screams and bangs at about the time Andrew was stabbed in the early hours of Saturday morning.
One woman, who did not want to be named, said she heard a disturbance in the courtyard outside her ground floor flat.
The 20-year-old, who has lived in the street for nine months, said: “We heard people shouting. There was screaming like they were running round the back, running past my front door.”
“It’s horrible and disturbing.”
Residents said the area is plagued by gangs of youths drinking and causing trouble.
One 64-year-old man said: “I have put in for a bungalow. I want out of this area. There are so many kids going about now, up and down that pathway, drinking and riding bikes and stuff.
“I didn’t know anything had happened until I got up and saw the police.”
Police and forensic specialists were on the scene throughout the weekend talking to residents and combing the area where Andrew, originally from Hebburn, South Tyneside, was found.
Leading the investigation Detective Chief Inspector Christina Barrett, said: “We are still asking for people with information about this offence to come forward.
“The investigation is ongoing, however we have nothing to suggest that there is any wider danger to the public.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact Northumbria Police on the 101 non-emergency number or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.