Police are hunting a hit and run driver who left a man dead in the road.
Dean Laing's body was found between two parked cars in the early hours of Saturday (November 10) morning.
It is believed he was hit by a car as he walked home from the pub.
His new girlfriend Louise Blenkinsopp revealed she had been planning to move in with Dean before Christmas.
As police investigated the hit-and-run which happened in the Claypath area of Durham City, Louise told how the driver who killed Dean had left her devastated.
She said: "I had just felt so lucky to find him, but now I have lost him and it is so cruel.
"I just want him back, I love him so much.
"I just wish I could have been with him when he died and held his hand. I can't stand the thought of him lying there by himself.
"Whoever did this has ruined our lives when we were both the happiest we had ever been."
Mum-of-one Louise met Dean through an online dating site in May.
She added: "I was really nervous about meeting him, but I knew straight away he was the one.
"When I first saw him I said 'Thank you God' to myself.
"The first time we went out he was a proper gentleman. He opened all the doors for me.
"At the end of the night, we sat in the car and talked for ages. Then when he got home he texted saying; 'I didn't want to leave you, I think you're amazing’.
"I have spoken to him every day since then."
Former boxer Dean grew-up in Durham but spent several years with his brother Mark, 40, in Rugby, Warwickshire, where he worked on the railways.
The 6ft 3ins fitness fanatic came back to his home town to live with his dad David, 63, and aunt Pauline, 52, just before meeting Louise.
But he had planned to move in to the house in Seaham, Co Durham, that Louise shares with 14-year-old son Cameron in time for Christmas.
Louise, 45, said: "He said he wanted us to stay together forever.
"But he was really old fashioned and thought the man should look after the woman. He did everything for us.
"He was so funny.
"He was a really big, strong ex-boxer, but he was just so loving and gentle. He would kiss and cuddle me all the time, he was so lovely, just the perfect boyfriend.
"Dean was the first man I had introduced my son to and he was like a dad to him.
"Cameron asked if he could call him 'dad' and Dean was just so proud. When I told him his face lit up. Cameron adored him.
"Dean wanted to set-up his own garden furniture business and have Cameron work for him when he grew up.
"He was planning to take him camping and teach him woodwork. He had lots of plans."
But early on Saturday Dean, who had been out for a drink in Durham alone, was hit by a car on the short walk back to his dad’s house.
His body was found between two parked cars outside a guest-house on Claypath, after police got a report around 2.40am that a man had been hit by a car.
The driver left the scene and was last night still being hunted by police.
Dean's family were told the news by a police officer.
His aunt, Pauline, said: "They have just left him to die in the middle of the road.
"How can anyone do that? I can't believe it.
"I just keep thinking of him lying there and wondering whether anything could have been done to help him.
"I just hope they can’t live with themselves."
Police would like to speak to anyone who was in the Claypath area near its junction with Gilesgate between 2am and 3am on Saturday.
Any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to contact 101.