EMOTIONS ran high at the funeral of a teenager weeks after he died from a single stab wound while celebrating his 18th birthday.

Scores of friends joined close family and other relatives of Paul Best at his funeral service yesterday, at a packed parish Church of the Ascension, in Easington Colliery, County Durham.

It was three weeks ago that Paul died during a party with friends at the family home in North Crescent, in nearby Easington Village.

Paul, known to friends as "Besty", worked part-time with his father Don, a self-employed bricklayer and roofer, since leaving Easington Community School.

Mr Best helped his grief-stricken wife, Mary, into church, closely followed by other family members for the service, taken by curate the Reverend Pamela Lucas.

She spoke of the tragedy of Paul's young life "suddenly cut short" without the chance for his family to say goodbye.

Mr Lucas described Paul as "a good son and loyal brother", to his six-year-old sister, Jaymee, and brothers Steven, 19, and five-year-old Jack, who he had taught to climb.

She told mourners of Paul's stamina and "sense of pride and achievement" when he climbed Ben Nevis with his father last summer.

A poem written by Paul's 11-year-old cousin, David Nixon, was read out during the service.

Dedicated to "Besty, the best Paul", it read: "Remember you always. Be remembered and loved by me and loads of other people.

"We thought the world of you and helped you in every way we could.

"The tragic thing gobsmacked us all. We never thought it would happen to our Besty.

"Disappointed as I am, I will always make time to come to see you and pay my respects."

Mourners, who filed into church to the sound of Daniel O'Donnel singing The Old Rugged Cross, left to the sounds of Kelly Llorenna's "Heart of Gold", both favourites of Paul.

A private family burial followed at the nearby cemetery.

* David Mitchell, 18, also of North Crescent, Easington, is charged with Paul's murder and is due to make his second appearance at Newcastle Crown Court next month.