Northern Echo editors past and present have paid tribute to the paper’s former crime reporter Patrick Lavelle who has died of cancer aged 50.
Lavelle was crime editor for the Echo in the Nineties and became news editor for the Sunderland Echo before going on to teach journalism at Sunderland University.
Current Northern Echo editor Peter Barron said: “Patrick was one of the best journalists I ever worked with.
“He had a burning passion for investigative journalism that made him stand out from others and he is a sad loss to journalism.”
Former Northern Echo editor Peter Sands, who writes a column in Press Gazette magazine, said: “I remember Patrick turning up to an interview for a trainee’s job at The Northern Echo in the mid-80s and being bowled over by his determination.
“He had a young family and a day job but had put himself through nightschool to get the qualifications. He came armed with cracking story ideas and an astonishing instinct for news.”
Lavelle wrote books about Wearside Jack, the hoax Yorkshire Ripper, and was also a film-maker. He founded the Sunderland First political group to challenge the failings in party politics.
Sands described Lavelle as ‘a great journalist’adding that his death was ‘a great loss”.