Neighbour recalls phoning stabbing victim’s mum in ‘hardest call I’ve ever made’

Tributes have been paid to a 28-year-old stabbed to death – by the man who told his mum of the tragedy before she could find out on social media.

Daryl Fowler was knifed to death by Lee Wall on Friday, September 11, just doors away from neighbour Brian Whitfield, who had known the victim since he was a baby.

Wall was this week found guilty at Newcastle Crown Court of Daryl’s murder in Gateshead, ChronicleLive reports, by stabbing him twice in the stomach after an argument broke out at Wall’s partner’s home on the evening of Friday September 11.

Brian witnessed the distressing scene as paramedics battled to save Daryl’s life in the street outside that night and at first had no idea it was the lad he had known since his birth.

When he realised it was Daryl, and that there was nothing the paramedics could do to save his life, Brian decided he would tell Daryl’s mum what had happened before someone else did – or she found out on social media.

After Wall was found guilty of murder by a jury, Brian has paid tribute to Daryl as he told of the heartbreaking moment he delivered the devastating news.

He said: “It was just heartbreaking to be honest. I’d seen a lot of people out with their camera phones so I ended-up phoning his mam and telling her the news over the phone because I didn’t want her finding out on Facebook.

“It was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve ever had to make. She was in bits. She just broke down.”

Brian lives with his wife at Chevington, on Leam Lane, close to where the attack happened.

He had known Daryl for more than 25 years after living next door to his family in Gateshead while the deceased was growing up.

Brian, 48, said Daryl had since moved to South Shields, but would regularly return to Leam Lane to visit friends, and Brian saw him not long before he died.

“I was his next door neighbour from him being a baby,” Brian explained. “He was spot on, he was a lovely lad when he was with the right crowd, but he was easily led.

“He was happy go lucky. If he knew you and you were alright with him he was spot on.

“He was here a lot visiting friends. I had seen him a couple of days before. We always seen him. Every time he came past he stopped at the fence to say hello.

“I sat and talked to him for about 10 or 15 minutes. We were just talking about cars and bits and bobs. He liked his cars and stuff. He was talking about how he was trying to keep out of bother.”

Jurors at Newcastle Crown Court heard the night in question was the night before the third anniversary of Daryl’s dad’s death and he and Wall had been at the flat with their partners.

Prosecutors told how an argument began some time before 8pm between the two women, but both men then became involved.

As the row became physical Daryl knocked Wall’s partner Emma Brown to the ground on a covered communal balcony outside her flat, the court was told.

A witness said a fight then broke out between the two men.

And Daryl’s partner Coreena Jamieson noticed that Wall had a knife in his hand.

Miss Jamieson rang emergency services after seeing Daryl lying in the middle of the road seriously injured.

Brian said he went to see what was going on after hearing sirens.

“It was a big shock. The wife was in the back garden, she heard screaming and crying. But we are used to it round here so we didn’t take much notice,” the grandfather explained.

“Then I saw the blue lights coming past and it was like something out of a movie. Then when I seen Daryl’s girlfriend and the other two I put two and two together.”

Brian watched on in horror as paramedics spent around 40 minutes trying to save Daryl’s life.

“I seen them working on him. I couldn’t believe how much effort they did to keep him alive,” he said. “They did an amazing job. It’s just a shame they were unable to save him. But you couldn’t fault them.”

Daryl was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle where treatment continued until the early hours if September 12, the court heard.

But he was pronounced dead at 2.40am.

Wall was found guilty of murder by a jury and was warned he faces a life sentence.

He and partner Emma Brown had previously admitted perverting the course of justice after the murder and they will be sentenced together next month.