Partner's heartbreak at losing 'one in a million' dad in front of her as killer neighbour convicted

Tony Nichol's partner Natalie said his smile "would light up a room". Credit: Northumbria Police

A heartbroken woman has spoken of her pain at losing a "one in a million" dad in front of her after a killer neighbour was convicted by a jury.

Tony Nichol's partner Natalie made desperate attempts to save his life following an attack in a home on Columbia Grange, in Kenton, Newcastle, where they were celebrating with friends.

An altercation broke out during the evening in December last year, when neighbour Andrew Somerville grabbed a knife from inside the property and launched a fatal attack on Mr Nichol, police said.

The 36-year-old was taken to hospital with serious injuries and later died.

Somerville was arrested a short time after the incident and questioned by detectives where he denied an allegation of murder.

The case was sent to trial at Newcastle Crown Court where a jury found the 42-year-old guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday 8 June.

'He would light up a room with his smile'

On Thursday Mr Nichol's family paid tribute to the "much-loved" dad, son and brother.

Recalled the night of his death, his partner Natalie said: "The night I lost Tony was the worst night of my life. The horrific night that changed our lives forever.

"I tried my very best to save him but I had to literally watch him die in front of me, something I want to forget but never can.

"Tony is my one in a million man, he would light up a room with his smile and would literally melt my heart."

Mr Nichol's mother, Janet, has pledged keep her son alive in his young daughter's memory.

"There are no words that can express the pain, trauma and heartache we are going through," she said. "Our son has been taken from us and he is not coming back.

"All we have left to keep us going is Tony's daughter, our granddaughter, Tianna, who is only three years old.

"He will miss her first day of school, her Christmas nativity, her birthdays, her face as she meets Santa Claus, getting her GCSE results and her high-school prom and all the massive experiences you want your parents to share.

"We will make sure he will live on each time we see her talk about her dad so his memory continues.

"I never want any mother to feel the devastation I have felt when I was notified on that night, when our world literally fell apart and changed forever."

And Mr Nichol's beloved little sister Georgina said: "Growing up and going through school if I ever needed guidance I always knew I had Tony.

"He took his role as 'big bro' super seriously, which gave everyone a giggle now and then. Tony was always someone I looked up to.

"To me he was the kindest funniest most protective man I had in my life."

Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Brooks, who led the investigation, praised the bravery of Mr Nichol's family after the jury returned their guilty manslaughter verdict.

Somerville, of Columbia Grange, Kenton, has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced later this month.

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