There will be a big empty space at at one Newcastle family’s table this Christmas.
Maria Wray’s son Dean Wright died in mysterious circumstances in Mexico last year.
During what should have been a relaxing pre-Christmas holiday, in Cancun, the 33-year-old died in mysterious circumstances inside the TUI-operated hotel he was staying at.
Last weekend marked the first anniversary of his death.
One year on and Maria, and partner Paul Miller, are still in the dark as to what exactly unfolded in the moments before their beloved son died.
As investigations continue, the family face the heartbreaking reality of another Christmas without their beloved son.
“Whilst everyone is celebrating together this Christmas, sadly Christmas will never feel the same again for our family,” said mum Maria.
“A year after our Dean was killed in Cancun, it is still very raw. When you lose a family member under ordinary circumstances you go through a grieving process but our family have spent all that time trying to find out what happened.”
What used to be a time of year dominated by laughter and joy with their son will now forever be associated with that text and phone call received just under a fortnight before Christmas which broke the news that Dean was dead.
“Like then and like every day since there has been no explanation and our grief has been constantly on hold,” she added.
The Westerhope family are still searching for answers about what happened on the morning of December 14.
In the hours leading up to his death, Dean was seen mingling with various guests at the hotel.
But some time between 5am and 7am, his family believe he may have been assaulted. Soon after, his body was found.
Police on both sides of the Atlantic have investigated his death.
A spokesperson for TUI previously said: “We are deeply saddened to hear about Mr Wright and our thoughts remain with his family.
“We have assisted UK police with their investigation and provided them with as much information as possible.
“As this matter is subject to an ongoing investigation by the Mexican police, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
Dean’s family have now called on the help of former senior detective David Swindle, whose ‘David Swindle Crime Solutions’ team helps support families of those killed abroad, while they also have lawyers looking at his case.
A global appeal has been launched in the desperate search for hotel guests who may be able to cast a light on Dean’s final moments.
However, as that continues, the family are preparing themselves for what was his favourite time of the year.
“Dean absolutely adored Christmas,” added Maria.
“His idea of the best Christmas would be playing board games and playing loads of his favourite music surrounded by his family.
“Every year there would be a competition to see who was best at pouring the right amount of brandy on the Christmas pudding to give it just the right blue glow.
“He didn’t mind if it was burnt to a crisp and practically inedible as he preferred a squishy trifle to a Christmas pud.
“Dean had a massive heart, Christmas to him was more about giving than receiving.
“One year Dean and his then girlfriend got up at 7am and went around all the family handing out presents, he just loved the idea of a big family Christmas, he loved the atmosphere and the closeness.”
Recently a website was launched to try and track down anybody who may be able to shed some light on what happened to popular Dean, who had over 500 friends attend a celebration of his life.
The family say that since the appeal went live, interest in his case has gone “through the roof”, but despite his story being shared as far away as the USA and Australia, it has yet to produce the crucial breakthrough.
Maria said: The longer this goes on, the less chance we have of finding anyone and less chance they remember what happened.”
As Christmas nears, the family admit they are having to cope with what is now their “new normal” – life without their prescious Dean.
“This year there will be no music, no Dean reading all the daft jokes out of the Christmas crackers, no enormous hugs and no huge cheesy smile,” added Maria. There is now just us.”
Source: Chronicle Live