Cumbria

Carlisle teen Tom McNeill's death in Bulgaria 'an accident'

Tom McNeill
Image caption Tom was on holiday with his best friend's family

The death of a teenager from Cumbria who fell from a balcony in Bulgaria was an accident, a coroner has ruled.

Tom McNeill, from Carlisle, was on holiday with his best friend's family in July 2011 when he fell from the apartment balcony after a night out.

An inquest in Carlisle heard the 17-year-old died from head injuries after he fell 40ft (12m) from the third floor of the building in Sunny Beach.

Coroner David Roberts called for a review of balcony safety at the resort.

He heard how Tom and his friend Jordan Robson had been on an organised bar crawl but had not drunk excessively.

At around 06:00 they went to the apartment of some men they had made friends with and decided they would sleep there.

The coroner said it was impossible to know exactly what had happened because everyone else was asleep. But a pillow found on the wall of the third-floor balcony suggested Tom had chosen to rest there.

It was likely, he said, he had fallen asleep and simply rolled off.

'An adored son'

Tom was found unconscious in shrubs just after 08:00. He had suffered fatal head injuries.

His father, David McNeill, told the inquest how he had not wanted Tom to go away without his own family, but that he knew he was growing up.

Paying tribute to his son, he said: "He was the most charming, handsome, friendly boy, as perfect a teenager as you could get.

"He was, and is, an adored son, brother, grandson, nephew, boyfriend and friend.

"And this loss has devastated our lives but he has left so much love that he will always be part of our lives."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, the coroner said he would be asking the holiday company to review the safety of balcony walls.

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