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Losing your child is like your worst nightmare come true; DAD OF PARTY-DEATH TEEN VOWS NOT TO MAKE SAME MISTAKES.


HIS daughter died after being sucked into a dark world of drink and drugs.

But now Derek Rushford has been given a second chance at fatherhood.

The father of tragic teen Rochelle Rush-ford says he is determined to learn from his mistakes and look to the future with new daughter Sky-Olivia.

But he added he was still haunted by the way 16-year-old Rochelle died, at a party.

Rochelle was found unconscious at her mum's flat, in Hexham House, Walker, Newcastle.

A year on and her dad Derek is still struggling to come to terms with his loss.

Now blessed with Sky-Olivia, two, the 39-year-old has vowed to protect his new daughter from the horrors Rochelle fell into.

Unemployed Derek, of Waverly Road, Cruddas Park, Newcastle, said: "My children are my life.

"I've always tried to be there for my children - I saw Rochelle whenever I wanted to, nearly all of the time.

"I know I'm not perfect, I've made mistakes and I haven't always set the best example, but I love my children, they mean the world to me.

"I still remember the day I got that phone call telling me Rochelle was dead.

"It doesn't matter how good or bad a parent you are, it's still your worst nightmare.

"I've never been involved in drugs, and now I hate them. They've taken my daughter away forever."

Rochelle faced a troubled start when her family broke down after Derek stabbed her mum in a heated row.

At the age of seven, she went to live with aunt Shirley Hindes, in Cramlington, where she her grew into a fun-loving youngster who did well at school.

Shirley and husband Billy were looked upon as Rochelle's parents and enjoyed a close relationship with her but, at 16, she left school and moved out leaving them powerless to prevent her getting sucked into a world of drink, drugs and crime.

In July 2006, she put herself into care and went on to be housed in hostels, bed and breakfasts and other accommodation across the North East. Her final address was a hostel in Newcastle city centre. From there she rang her father for the last time.

"I'll never forget what she told me," said Derek. "She told me she was in a hostel for the homeless. I was disgusted.

"She said she was going to come and see me and she told me she loved me. I never spoke to her again.

"I've lost her for good now.

"I don't see her mum any more, only when I bump into her at Rochelle's graveside. We don't say anything to each other, we just stand there in silence.

"Nothing will bring her back and I'll never forget her. I'll make sure Sky knows all about her big sister too."

Rochelle, who was known to her friends as Rocky, died after a party in the high rise tower block, where it is believed she had been taking drugs.

She had been at the 14th-floor bash with her boyfriend who, at 29, was 13 years her senior, along with her mother and friends.

The results of a probe into Rochelle's death were published last week.

The Serious Case Review into her death tells how she became stuck in a legislative black hole between childhood and adulthood, with care services not geared up to give her the support she needed.


REGRETS: Derek Rushford, father of Rochelle, right, has told how he heard his daughter had lost her life at a party in Newcaslle
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Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 22, 2008
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