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The family of Daniel Whitworth, murdered by Stephen Port, say this Christmas is for him

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While the murder of Daniel Whitworth is recent news to many, this Christmas is the third his family face without their beloved boy.

It does not get any easier. His father, Adam, is now childless and his grandmother Barbara has lost her only grandchild.

While his killer has been brought to justice, it does little to soothe the family’s grief but they are determined this December 25 will be different.

Daniel in recent years
Daniel in recent years

Speaking from the family home in Bean Road, Greenhithe, his step-mother, Amanda Pearson said: “We hadn’t really done anything for Christmas for the past couple of years, we literally just got through it.

“But now the court case is behind us, we thought we’d try to make something of this one, because Daniel absolutely loved Christmas.

“He loved having everyone together around the table, enjoying themselves and playing all the games like charades.

“Being a chef as well, so much revolves around the food and when he got his own place he loved to host it too. We’ve put some decorations up, Daniel’s grandma is coming over and I’ve got my two girls visiting as well so we’re going to try to have this one for Daniel.”

Daniel, 21, was murdered in September 2014 by serial killer Stephen Port. His body was found in a graveyard in Barking, east London, with a fake suicide note, planted by Port, framing him for the death of Mr Kovari. At the Old Bailey last month, Port was jailed for life for the murders of Daniel, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Jack Taylor, 25, and Anthony Walgate, 23, along with a number of other sex and drug offences.

Daniel moved from Bean Road, where he spent most of his childhood, to Nine Elms Grove, Gravesend, around four years ago, where he lived with his boyfriend of four years Ricky Waumsley.

Daniel with his grandma Barbara
Daniel with his grandma Barbara

He was raised single-handedly by his dad, due to his late mother Penny’s health issues. She died just a few months before Daniel.

Now, with the gruelling case behind them the family are once more able to concentrate solely on remembering Daniel for the humble, hard working and kind young man he was.

He and his grandmother Barbara, 80, were exceptionally close.

Amanda said: “He did so much for his grandma. When she was ill from time to time, he’d take her to Darent Valley Hospital and sit for hours with her. She used to get cramp a lot and he would massage her feet. He was incredibly caring. Nothing was too much trouble.

“He was very affectionate too.He always gave me a cuddle. He was a lovely lad. I came into his life in 2011 and we were both a bit shy of each other. He was quiet, like his dad. They led a very humble existence really. Adam did a fantastic job bringing Daniel up and he should be sitting back enjoying that now, spending time with his son, but he can’t.”

As a child Daniel was always very chatty, with a vocabulary beyond his years and he loved people.

After being home tutored for a time, he got a place at Dartford Grammar School and then went on to study catering at North West Kent College.

Daniel Whitworth as a young boy, growing up in Greenhithe
Daniel Whitworth as a young boy, growing up in Greenhithe

It was at Canary Wharf he was working most recently, for catering firm ISS, but despite liking the job, the commute into London ground him down and he missed his previous job at Brands Hatch Thistle Hotel.

While working there, he used to pop in to see his grandmother in West Kingsdown between shifts. The pair were looking forward to getting their routine back, as he had secured a new job at Reynolds Retreat in Borough Green just before his death.

"Daniel was a clever lad. He used to play chess. He had his head screwed on, which makes this all the more unbelievable. It’s hard to believe he ended up in this situation” - Amanda

He also enjoyed cycling and together father and son used to pedal for miles, often all along the Thames and into London where they would take in the sights or go to a museum.

He was an animal lover too and growing up had a pet rabbit called Cindy.

As a boy, Daniel went on seaside holidays with his dad. They would get the train down to Weymouth or Folkestone for a quintessentially British bucket-and-spade break. In fact it wasn’t until he got together with long-term boyfriend Ricky that he went aborad, and the pair travelled extensively, including Turkey and Thailand.

They were planning a trip abroad with Adam and Amanda.

Amanda said: “Adam and I are planning to get married. I just wish he could have been here for it. There are so many missed opportunities now.

“We’d sometimes go to the John Franklin pub down the road or go into Gravesend, or Rochester, but not often enough.

“I wish I could say we were all out together having a laugh on a Saturday night but we all worked, and Daniel did some ungodly hours. Daniel and Ricky would go into London together though, meet up with friends and go out in Soho and places. They always had a good crowd.

“And thanks to the midnight last train home, they’d often end up staying out all night until the first one of the morning. They were even known to fall asleep on the train, get off at Gillingham and then walk all the way back to Gravesend.

“He’d never pay for a taxi if he could just walk it. They were both just loving life.

His parents have paid tribute to their son
His parents have paid tribute to their son

“Rich was always the more outgoing one and would bring him out his shell.

“They used to have a lot of banter too, usually at my expense over the latest moronic thing I’d done. They came over to have a good laugh when I fell out the bath and took the whole shower curtain with me – after checking that I was actually OK.

“But Daniel was a clever lad. He used to play chess. He had his head screwed on, which makes this all the more unbelievable. It’s hard to believe he ended up in this situation.”

His grandmother is inconsolable and said she would never be the same again after losing Daniel. She was devastated also not have been able to say a proper goodbye.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Romford kept Daniel for 17 days after he died and it made it impossible to see him in a chapel of rest, or in an open casket, so she never saw Daniel again.

he Whitworths have now joined the families of some of Port’s other victims to sue the Met Police over failings in their investigations and say is it the closest they will probably ever get to some kind of closure.

Amanda is standing together with Sarah Sak, the mother of Anthony Walgate, and Donna and Jenny Taylor, sisters of Jack Taylor, to launch the legal action.

An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission into the handling of the four deaths will look at whether three of the victims could have been saved if the warning signs had been seen in the first victim, Mr Walgate. The victims’ families believe they could have and 17 officers are being examined over their role in the case.

It was the families who forced the police to look at a potential link between the killings, after the deaths were initially put down to overdoses and in Mr Whitworth’s case, a suicide.
Amanda said: “This isn’t something you ever get over. You just take the days as they come, and keep doing it.

“It’s not like losing somebody peacefully in their sleep, or even after a tragic accident.

Having them taken like this has been a uniquely distressing experience, and we don’t really expect people to understand.

“There is a lot Barking and Dagenham police need to be held accountable for. Too much was left unanswered. It will add up to a lot in our lives, to have some accountability.

“Over the weeks we have seen exactly what that specimen is and now he’s nothing more to do with us.

“We’re looking at starting counselling in the New Year, which we’ve had to put off because of this court case but we need some help to get through the next bit. Next year is packed already with the case against the Met police.”

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