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Friends tell of man's tragic plunge

PUBLISHED: 14:03 03 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:36 03 March 2010

IN any other circumstances, they should have been cheerfully looking back over holiday snaps, remembering a great holiday.

Instead friends of tragic Suffolk tourist Daniel Williams, who died in a fall at his Cyprus hotel after a prank went horribly wrong, yesterday gathered at the Battisford home of his parents Linda and Gerard Williams, near Stowmarket, to console one another.

IN any other circumstances, they should have been cheerfully looking back over holiday snaps, remembering a great holiday.

Instead friends of tragic Suffolk tourist Daniel Williams, who died in a fall at his Cyprus hotel after a prank went horribly wrong, yesterday gathered at the Battisford home of his parents Linda and Gerard Williams, near Stowmarket, to console one another.

As they brought home Mr Williams' belongings and car, with tears welling up in their eyes they recounted the last hours of the popular 27-year-old.

"He was the life and soul of the party. That's how I'll remember him," said Steve Charles, 29, a friend for more then 10 years who was one of the seven-strong group who had gone out to clubber's paradise of Ayia Napa.

"It was the last night of our holiday and we went to a Thai restaurant before going to Starsky and Hutch," he said, describing the club's mix of 60s and 70s classics. "We had saved the best night to last. We were due to fly back the next day and we had things planned we wanted to do. We didn't get back too late but everyone was enjoying themselves."

But on returning to their holiday apartments at around 1.30am, high spirits soon took a tragic turn when Mr Williams, a computer design technician, tried to jump from one room one first floor balcony to a neighbouring balcony no more than seven feet away.

"Nine out of ten times he would've done it," continued Mr Charles, who lives in Borehamwood, Herts where most of the group first met each other as students. "Dan was a really fit lad."

Kind-hearted Mr Williams was intending to surprise his friends with a t-shirt emblazoned with the logo 'Starsky and Hutch 2001' - a present for Gary Stone, 24, and Hayley Ward, 19, who hadn't gone to the club and were asleep next-door.

Mr Williams fell backwards about three metres, landing on his head - and when he didn't get up, Mr Charles at first thought his pal was just fooling around.

"Dan was always a practical joker. I thought he was joking so I shouted to him to get up."

When he didn't, he rushed to his aid and checked his pulse. He called an ambulance that arrived within minutes.

"Everything happened so fast," added Mr Charles. "I just can't believe it."

Mr Williams was declared dead by a doctor at the scene. He is thought to have died from head injuries.

Together, though, it was an opportunity for the group of friends to remember their popular and well-loved pal, who got to know most of them after he had moved down to Hertfordshire to study map-making first at Borehamwood and then at Luton University.

They had got to know Mr Williams, a former cadet at the Wattisham Airbase, through the Air Training Cadet corps based at the Hertfordshire aerodrome Elstree.

"We all became friends as soon as we got down there," said Gavin Johnson, another long-time pal. "He never had a bad word to say and he'd always help a friend out. He was the one that made sure we all met up, wherever we were."

And for some the memories of the bubbly friend were too devastatingly fresh.

"He was my best man on September 1," said Ian White, 25, from Luton. "In his speech he had me and the Mrs down to a tee. It was very funny - a speech of two halves."

Last night >>>>Mr Williams' team-mates at Needham FC held a minute's silence and wore black arm bands in memory of their talented fellow player, whose tally of goals so far this season included a hattrick at his last game on September 15 - just before he went on the fateful two-week holiday.

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