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Tributes to Daniel Whitworth, from Gravesend, who was killed by Grindr killer Stephen Port as inquest into deaths open

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The family of a chef who was killed by Grindr serial killer Stephen Port have paid tribute to their "pride and joy" and spoke of their pain over his death being treated as suicide.

The relatives of Daniel Whitworth, from Gravesend, gave statements which were read out at the opening of the inquest into his death at the hands of Port.

Daniel Whitworth was killed by Port in 2014
Daniel Whitworth was killed by Port in 2014

The long-awaited hearing began on Tuesday along with inquests relating to the deaths of Port's other three victims Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Jack Taylor, 25.

Former Dartford Grammar student Daniel, 21, was killed by Port in 2014 after they met via the gay dating app Grindr.

His grandmother Barbara Whitwoth said: "My grandson, Daniel, was a total joy, from being a cheeky, mischevious child, to a caring, loving adult."

After leaving school, Daniel attended Denton College in Gravesend, where he trained to become a chef. His grandmother recalled taking him for his first job interview at Brands Hatch Hotel, near her home, when he got the job.

She said: "He was able to come to me at lunchtimes for a bite to eat and to rest comfortably on most days. Daniel was never far away when I was ill and he would stay overnight just to be sure I was okay during the night.

Daniel with his grandmother Barbara
Daniel with his grandmother Barbara

"We were very close, and it showed in so many ways, he was truly a godsend.

"Daniel was an ambitious lad who really loved his work, he would delight in inviting his family for Christmas dinners and other occasions and the food would be absolutely perfect."

Barbara said at the time of his murder, Daniel had been looking forward to starting a new job in Borough Green.

She added: "He was very excited to be moving on and couldn’t wait to get started. Hard work certainly didn’t worry him, he would work himself to exhaustion."

Port made Daniel's death appear as suicide and faked a note which was found with his body in an Essex churchyard, saying he blamed himself after accidentally administering a fatal dose of the drug GBH to Gabriel Kovari who was found dead a month before in the same place.

Stephen Port was convicted in 2016
Stephen Port was convicted in 2016

In June 2015 a coroner ruled Daniel's death as suicide but this verdict was later quashed.

Barbara spoke of how this had added to their pain: "Daniel was my pride and joy and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss him. He had his whole life in front of him and it seems so unfair that he was taken from us at such a young age.

"To add to the misery of his loss, to then live with the ‘fact’ he had taken his own life was more than I could bear, history was repeating itself or so it seemed, as I have already lost one of my sons to suicide.

"We remember him with love and pride too, because he was such a lovely person with his heart in the right place."

Daniel's dad Adam Whitworth, from Greenhithe, said: "Daniel had all his priorities in the right place, nobody is perfect, but my son worked so hard.

Daniel Whitworth's stepmum Mandy Pearson appeared on a BBC documentary about the family's fight for justice
Daniel Whitworth's stepmum Mandy Pearson appeared on a BBC documentary about the family's fight for justice

"I don’t understand, or know why he decided to go on Grindr, but we waited a while to find that out, we waited a while to be told his life had been snuffed out at the hands of someone else and not his own.

"At the point of being informed of his death, we were not asked to identify him and this would have been our way of believing what we had been told.

"I miss him enormously and I will never get over his loss."

In 2016, 46-year-old Port, from Barking, was found guilty of the four murders between June 2014 and September 2015.

Since then the victims’ families have continued to fight for answers as to why he evaded detection by police for so long.

Read more: All the latest news from Gravesend

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