Families hope to learn why Met Police failed to catch gay serial killer Stephen Port before he killed four victims as inquests start today
- Inquests into deaths of the young gay men are due to begin today in east London
- They come six years after Port’s 16-month killing spree was brought to an end
- Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth were killed
- Families have campaigned for answers as to why Port was not stopped sooner
The families of four victims killed by Stephen Port hope to learn why the Met Police failed to catch him before he carried out the murders as long-awaited inquests into their deaths get under way today.
Over the next 10 weeks, an inquest jury will hear details of how four young gay men died at the hands of the serial killer between June 2014 and September 2015.
The hearings, which were postponed due to the pandemic, are being held at Barking Town Hall in east London – just yards from where the victims’ bodies were dumped by Port after being administered fatal overdoses of the date rape drug GHB.
They come six years after Port’s 16-month killing spree was brought to an end, following the death of his final victim, 25-year-old Jack Taylor.
In 2016, 46-year-old Port, from Barking, was found guilty of the murders of Mr Taylor, Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, and 21-year-old Daniel Whitworth.
Since then, the victims’ families have continued to campaign for answers as to why Port was not stopped sooner.
Over the next 10 weeks, an inquest jury will hear details of how four young gay men died at the hands of Stephen Port (pictured), 46, between June 2014 and September 2015
On Monday, their lawyer Neil Hudgell, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: ‘It has been seven years and three months since Anthony Walgate was murdered; seven years and one month since Gabriel Kovari was murdered; just over seven years since Daniel Whitworth was murdered; and just over six years since Jack Taylor was murdered.
‘Their families have felt every single day of their absence. They have waited with great patience and conducted themselves with real dignity.
‘Yet, they’ve always wondered about whether there would have been a different outcome if the police had investigated Port properly and taken their concerns seriously, and if their boys hadn’t been gay.
‘For them, the inquests mark a key step in their quest for accountability.’
A senior Met officer offered an apology to the victims’ families and highlighted changes the force had made since the Port case.
Commander Jon Savell said: ‘Our thoughts are firstly with the family and friends of those murdered by Stephen Port.
‘We know this will be a painful and difficult time for them, hearing details once more of what happened to their loved ones.’
He said the Met was offering ‘every assistance’ to the coroner and welcomed a ‘full examination of all the facts surrounding the tragic deaths’.
Two of Port’s four victims were Jack Taylor (left), 25, and Daniel Whitworth (right), 21. Inquests into their deaths are due to begin today at Barking Town Hall in East London
Anthony Walgate (left) and Gabriel Kovari (right) were also victims of Port. The victims’ families have since campaigned for answers as to why the serial killer was not stopped sooner
He said: ‘At the time of Port’s conviction, we apologised to the victims’ families and Daniel Whitworth’s partner for how we initially responded to the deaths, and I would like to apologise again.
‘Since Port’s offences came to light we have worked hard within the Met to improve both our processes and our wider knowledge across the organisation of a range of issues associated with the murders.
‘We will not prejudge the findings of the inquests but we will review any more improvements the jury and coroner identify that we need to make.
‘It is extremely important to us that members of the LGBT+ communities trust the police and feel confident they are being provided with the best possible service.’
In 2016, Port (pictured above), from Barking, was found guilty of the murders of the four men. The inquests come six years after Port’s 16-month killing spree was brought to an end
On Friday, Sarah Munro, assistant coroner for the East London area, told jurors to focus on the evidence in court as they were sworn in to hear the inquests.
She told them: ‘On Tuesday… we will commence hearing inquests into the deaths of four young men who were murdered by a man called Stephen Port in 2014 and 2015.
‘They were killed by him with overdoses of a date rape drug called GHB and their bodies were discarded by him yards from where we are sitting now.’
The families of the victims, who are represented in court, are expected to attend the inquests.
Timeline of Stephen Port’s crimes
June 4, 2014: Police find Stephen Port at Barking station in East London with a young man he had drugged who has collapsed. Port admits they had taken illegal drugs but is not arrested.
June 19: Anthony Walgate, 23, given drug overdose and raped by Port who dumps body outside his flat and calls 999, claiming he has found an unconscious man.
June 26: Port suspected of lying to police and charged with perverting the course of justice. Released on bail. He is not accused of murdering Mr Walgate.
August 28: Gabriel Kovari, 22, given an overdose and raped by Port who dumps the body against a graveyard wall.
September 20: Daniel Whitworth, 21, given a drug overdose and raped. Port dumps his body against the same graveyard wall. Mr Whitworth is wearing Mr Kovari’s top and is in a bed-sheet which has Port’s DNA on it.
October 1: Detective Chief Inspector Tony Kirk tells local paper the three deaths within a mile of each other are not being treated as suspicious.
March 23, 2015: Port jailed for perverting the course justice by lying over Mr Walgate’s death. Released on licence in June with an electronic tag.
September 13: Jack Taylor, 25, given a drug overdose and raped by Port. Body found next to the same graveyard.
October 15: Port arrested on suspicion of four murders and charged. Later charged with attacks on eight other men.
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