Hotel staff have apologised for creating a "horrifying" effigy of a dead footballer in an attempt at a tribute for his parents that went terribly wrong.

Karen Baker, from Hertfordshire, had arranged for staff from a five-star Jamaican hotel resort to dress a room for friends Faye and Andrew Stephens, whose son Alex died after falling from a balcony on holiday in 2014.

The couple, from Willesden, north-west London, were on holiday with Mrs Baker, Alex's godmother, to celebrate his birthday this week, a tradition they began after his death, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Instead of a heartfelt tribute, hotel staff created a life-size model made out of clothes lying on the hotel bed, holding a birthday cake.


TUI UK have since refunded the family for the "misunderstanding" after they spoke about it on BBC radio.

Mrs Baker had paid two staff from the Royalton Jamaica Resort to secretly decorate Mr and Mrs Stephens' bedroom with a cake and balloons.

But the two hotel workers created the mannequin instead, complete with a can of lager and tears on its face.

The body was lying next to petals arranged to read: "We miss you Alex".

Mrs Baker, who first discovered the effigy, said she was "utterly horrified" and managed to remove the dummy before Alex's parents saw it.

She told the BBC: "When I walked into the bedroom, all I can describe is a dummy body on the bed," she said.

"Staff had gone through my friend's wardrobe and stuffed the clothes with towels to make it look like a body on the bed. They even put tears down the face and a can of lager in his hand.

"I was absolutely horrified - as you can imagine I was sweating and shaking. We just didn't want our friends to see it.

"I have truly never seen anything like it. I still look at the photographs now and can't believe somebody thought to do that".

Alex Stephens died after flying to Barcelona with friends for a music festival in 2014.

The 21-year-old footballer was scouted by Watford FC aged 10 and played for Norwich City between 2009 and 2011 before becoming a first team player for AFC Wembley.

A TUI UK spokesman said: "We offer our sincere apologies to the Baker party for their holiday experience in Jamaica.

"We're following up with the hotel and believe it was a misunderstanding with no intention to cause upset."

The family have since received a full refund from TUI of £1,300 per person for the five-star holiday.