Family tributes to father after lake tragedy

Lawrence Gallagher, Nathan Stent and right, Leon
Lawrence Gallagher, Nathan Stent and right, Leon

THE devastated family of a young father-of-four who is believed to have drowned in a lake at the weekend have paid tribute to him.

Leon Stent, 30, of Quebec Road, St Leonards, lost his life after getting into difficulties in the lake at Coghurst Hall holiday park on Saturday night (May 17).

Police were called to the park in Ivyhouse Lane at around 11.20pm where a man was reported as being drunk and disorderly.

Sussex Police said there was a confrontation Leon who ran away and was later spotted in the lake at the park. Officers and Leon’s friends encouraged him to come out but he ran into difficulties and is believed to have drowned.

Divers from Sussex Police’s Specialist Search Unit found Leon’s body at 3pm on Sunday afternoon (May 18).

Leon’s 61-year-old mother, Pam, of Brook Street, said her son had had a few drinks and paid the ‘ultimate price’.

Paying tribute to him, she said: “Leon was very special and had a lovely singing voice at karaoke. He had a good singing voice anyway and was never shy to pick up a microphone. Leon was a soloist in the choir at St Paul’s School.

“He loved sharks and Lianne, his partner, bought him a swimming session with sharks at the London Aquarium this last Christmas.

“Leon was a wonderful family man and great with his children. He also loved his job as a self-employed scaffolder.”

Leon, who was born in Hastings, attended St Paul’s School before going to William Parker Sports College. When he was younger, Leon lived at the Rising Sun pub (now Paddy McGinty’s) in Battle Road, St Leonards where his mum ran it for 15 years.

His family said he loved all genres of music, from hip hop to drum and bass, as well as drinking and socialising with his friends.

He was with a group of friends at Coghurst Park watching the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Hull on the day he died.

Leon’s 32-year-old brother, Nathan, said: “Even though he was my little brother we were very close in age growing up and he was more like my friend. I wish I could have more time with him.

“He was a loyal friend and would stand by anyone he cared about.”

His 65-year-old father said: “The essence of his whole life will stay with me forever.

“He was just such a vibrant guy and loved to enjoy life.” His 10-year-old daughter, Amelia, said: “I loved Daddy and will miss him a lot.”

Leon’s 27-year-old partner, Lianne Fox, described him as ‘charismatic and one of a kind’. “He was just my best friend,” she added.

Lawrence Gallagher, Leon’s other brother, said: “He taught me how to MC when I was younger so I became Lil Lively.

“He was referred to as B-Lively.

“As I was his younger brother him and Nathan played a pivotal role in my upbringing as father figures.”