The families of four young gay men have spoken of their loved-ones’ dreams and ambitions before they were killed by Stephen Port.
Student Anthony Walgate – Port’s first victim – had been a quiet, shy child growing up in Hull.
But he turned from a “cygnet to a swan” after he set out to make his name in the fashion world in London.
The 23-year-old’s mother Sarah Sak told an inquest into his death: “Anthony was quite a shy, quiet child. I always used to say, as he learned to stand up he grabbed my leg and he never really let go.”
She shared fond anecdotes, including how he once put a tiny tooth in his ear and needed an operation to remove it.
She told jurors that her son developed a “dry wit” and his confidence grew daily after he went to college in London.
Ms Sak said: “I begged him not to go, and to stay in Yorkshire somewhere local. He replied that he would be famous one day with his name in lights, he loved fashion and it was the only place to achieve this.
“The longer Anthony was in London I could see the cygnet becoming the swan. He seemed to blossom and find who he really was and he could dress and act however he wanted. He loved London, his friends and the life he had there.
“We would speak at least three times a week, with Anthony telling me what he had been up to, also so he could ask about the news from home
“He was a really bad gossip he could not keep a secret. That’s one of the things I miss most about my boy is the phone calls – he either had me laughing or threatening to throttle him depending on what he had been up to.”
Slovakian university graduate Gabriel Kovari was just 22 when he was drugged with GHB and dumped in St Margaret’s churchyard just 300 metres from Port’s flat in Barking, east London.
Adam Kovari described his brother as a “very smart, talented, kind person with a passion for drawing and languages”.
“He wrote lots of poetry and illustrated it with beautiful drawings. He was the most talented of all of us in the family when it came to artistic expression,” Adam said.
“My brother was an exceptional and ambitious young man that I am sure would be leading an amazing life today, if he had a chance.
“He make a mistake of trusting people too much. This cost him life, but it should not have done.
“In my opinion, had the police done their job my brother could still be here with us today.”
Talented chef Daniel Whitworth, from Gravesend in Kent, was Port’s youngest victim at only 21.
He was found in the same churchyard some three weeks after Mr Kovari, with a suicide note faked by Port in a bid to cover up the earlier killing.
His grandmother Barbara Whitworth said: “My grandson Daniel was a total joy from being a cheeky, mischievous child to a caring loving adult.”
Ms Whitworth said he was an “ambitious lad who really loved his work” and would delight in inviting his family for Christmas dinners and other occasions.
She said: “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 own 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. He cared about people and loved animals.”
Mr Whitworth’s partner Ricky Waumsley told the inquest: “He was just literally my world and the only person at the time I really cared for.
“Of course, I love my family, but he was my first boyfriend and my first love. He meant a great deal to me. I still do miss him a lot.
“At the time of Daniel’s untimely death, Daniel was excited to be offered a new position at a spa resort in Sevenoaks, Kent, and we were discussing our future together.
“For example, we were in early plans for buying our very first property together in Gravesend and thinking about marriage, but unfortunately that never came to be.”
Forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, 25, wanted to become a police officer before he was killed by Port, his sister Donna told the inquest.
She told jurors that his family and friends meant everything to Mr Taylor and he was the “heart and soul of our family”.
“He always lit up a room with his warm nature and always had a big cheesy smile on his face.
“He did not have a bad bone in his body.
She said Mr Taylor was in the process of changing his night job so he could work in the day and train to be a police officer in the evenings. She said the family would “never stop fighting for our Jack”.
His other sister, Jenny, said the family was “heartbroken” without him.
“There is no amount of words to even be able to explain how much he is missed or to describe the pain we have to go through on a day to day basis,” she said.
“Our whole world’s been shattered into pieces, our family has a big hole missing and we are all so broken without him. We love him so very much, we always have and we always will.”