A MISSING Stone man had been on his way home from the funeral and wake for Stone stab victim Connan McLeod when he died, his family have revealed.
It is believed Kieran McColl, 21, of Thomas Avenue, missed his footing on an uneven section of canal towpath, fell in and drowned last Thursday night.
Police divers recovered a body from the Trent and Mersey Canal on Tuesday but formal identification had not yet been made as the Newsletter went to press.
Mr McColl, known as Lally to friends and family, leaves two brothers, Travis, 19, and Sean, 25, and his mum and dad, Denise and Lawrence McColl. The family have paid tribute to the hundreds of people who turned out for searches for Lally, and who have sent them messages of support since his body was found.
His mum, who works at Smarty’s Nursery in Stone, described her son as a “friendly and loving party animal who had a kind word for everyone”.
She said: “He loved going out partying and enjoying himself with his brothers and all their friends.
“He was really well known in Stone as he was out every weekend. He was also a fitness fanatic who worked out, went running and loved boxing.”
Lally, a former Alleyne’s pupil, won a fund-raising boxing tournament against local policeman and boxing co-ordinator Andy Whitehall at the age of just 14. He trained regularly at the Fighting Fit gym in Stone.
Lally was diagnosed at the age of 13 with a mild form of epilepsy, which meant he was not able to pursue boxing, his favourite sport, as a career, and trained as a joiner after leaving school.
He had recently started an Open University degree course in psychology. His mum said it had been unusual for him to be out on a week night as, since starting the degree, he had stayed in studying during the week and saved his partying for the weekends.
“We knew straight away that something must be wrong when he didn’t come home on Thursday night,” Mrs McColl said. “He enjoyed partying but he loved his home and he never stayed out all night.”
His family said Kieran gained the nickname Lally as he had always been a joker and as a five-year-old at school his teacher told him he was doolally. The nickname had stuck with him ever since.
His dad Lawrence, who works for JCB in Uttoxeter, said that the family had been deeply touched by all the messages they had received during the five days of searching for Lally and since his body was found.
“I went down to Westbridge Park on Monday night when his friends organised a search for him, and all three car parks were full of cars,” Mr McColl said.
“There must have been at least 250 people there, all wanting to help. And the police have been great throughout the search – they have done so much to help and support us as a family.”
Meanwhile Lally’s mum said friends had laid flowers and boxing gloves on the canal tow path near where his body was found. But she asked well-wishers not to keep on visiting the canal to leave bouquets because of the risks.
She said: “I couldn’t bear this happening to anyone else. Go to the pub and raise a glass of Lally’s favourite beer Stella to him instead.
“He had been a little monkey at times when he was growing up but he was an absolutely lovely lad and he will be missed terribly by all his friends and his family.”
Older brother Sean described Lally as his best friend.
“We went out together in a group, as friends as well as brothers,” he said. “Lally really enjoyed a party and he was friendly with everyone. It’s just devastating being without him.”
Sean said his brother was teased after a lads’ holiday to Magaluf because he came back without a suntan – having spent every night on the dance floor and his days asleep.
The family is considering raising money in Lally’s memory for an epilepsy charity at a later date. Mrs McColl said she wanted to raise awareness about the different types of epilepsy, because Lally had faced difficulties getting a job in the past due to misunderstandings about the condition.
Mr and Mrs McColl also thanked work colleagues for their support, particularly Mrs McColl’s employer Janet Skelton. “She has been a rock and has gone above and beyond any friendship,” Mrs McColl said.