A grieving man whose partner fell eight floors to his death was then charged with murder by police and forced to miss the funeral.
Aaron Buckley, 25, plunged to his death from the balcony at the apartment block following a night out in Gibraltar with his boyfriend, Craig Tune, in September.
The couple, originally from the Wirral but who had moved permanently to the British controlled-territory, had been having a smoke on the communal balcony when Aaron went ahead to their flat.
Just seconds later, Craig heard his partner calling out his name as he clung to the building by his fingertips, the Liverpool Echo reported.
But despite Craig’s desperate efforts to hold onto Aaron, he slipped from his hands and fell on to the pavement below, killing him instantly.
Although he called emergency services to explain what had happened and hurried down to the street to be with Aaron’s body until the ambulance arrived, police instead arrested him for murder.
Mr Tune spent more than two weeks under investigation by police following Aaron’s tragic death on September 9.
He spent three days in custody before being released on bail but conditions applied meant he had to miss the funeral on September 14.
The charges were finally dropped by police on September 25 following interviews with witnesses and a post mortem which all ruled out suspicion.
The alarm was first raised by Craig’s boss when he phoned the family in Birkenhead to ask why he had not turned up for work.
Craig’s sister Hayley Bottomley then noticed he had not been online for 21 hours which was out of character and suspected something was wrong.
She told the Echo: "We kept phoning Craig and Aaron’s phones – which were ringing out, sending texts asking for them to make contact.
“By 8pm with still no contact we phoned the hospital, then the police because we just didn’t know what to do. The police just kept saying they had noted my parents’ number and a colleague would call back.
“At 10pm the police called back and said they had Craig and put him on the phone.
“That phone call will haunt us for the rest of our lives, listening to Craig in so much distress, explaining what had happened."
Craig was locked up for three days, during which he was allowed a single 10 minute daily phone call to his distraught family.
Hayley, 49, said: “He didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.”
But it took another three weeks for all of Craig’s personal belongings, seized by officers during the investigation, to be returned.
By that time, Craig had lost his job too.
At various times different family members have been out to Gibraltar to support Craig.
Hayley said: “I returned from spending time with him and was shocked to see my brother broken both physically and mentally suffering with PTSD.
“To see him shake uncontrollably, witness his recurrent distressing memories of the night, panic attacks and terrible survivor’s guilt is devastating.
“We had only left him two months earlier after spending time with him and Aaron in the summer, and it was the happiest we have ever seen Craig, they were so in love and enjoying life and Craig had just started a new job which he loved.”
Craig is now receiving PTSD counselling, but doctors want him to remain in Gibraltar as they don’t feel he is in the right frame of mind to make a decision about moving.
Hayley continued: ”Craig is now able to visit Aaron’s grave and he seems to be taking comfort from being with him. Aaron’s mum and Craig are close but obviously could have no contact with each other whilst Craig was on bail. They take comfort from each other and visit Aaron’s grave together.
“Nobody will ever know the reason why Aaron was the other side of the balcony, but in less than 24 hours Craig lost his soul mate, his dignity, and his job and to be accused of something he did not do.”
Hayley, who is a secretary with a Liverpool Investment management firm, has now set up a GoFundMe page and is hoping to raise £6,000 towards Craig’s legal and living costs. The family also want to give some money to Aaron’s family.
She said: “As a family we are absolutely devastated for the loss of Aaron but also the loss of ‘our gentle Craig’, we feel so helpless.
“The messages of support we have received so far have been truly touching, and I didn’t realise how Craig has helped so many friends privately.”
To make a donation go to www.gofundme.com/zkt3ch-a-friend-in-need.
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