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Police failures “probably” contributed to death of Stephen Port victims

Clockwise from top left: Port’s murder victims Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari (Credit: Metropolitan Police)

Police failures “probably” contributed to the death of three of serial killer Stephen Port’s victims, an inquest jury has found. 

Stephen Port, 46, used the date rape drug GHB to rape and murder Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor in Barking between June 2014 and September 2015.

An inquest has been looking into whether mistakes made by police investigating the murders contributed to the deaths of his subsequent victims. 

Port’s first victim Anthony Walgate was found outside his block of flats while the bodies of the other three victims were all found in the graveyard of nearby St Margaret’s church.

Detectives failed to link the murders until after the death of his last victim and a number of mistakes made by investigating officers have come to light during the inquest. 

Officers investigating the death of Port’s first victim Anthony Walgate, 23, a fashion student from Hull, were not made aware Port had previously been accused of drug rape. 

They seized Port’s laptop but did not submit it for forensic analysis for ten months and failed to find drug rape videos that were on the device.

Port’s second victim Gabriel Kovari, 22, had sent pictures of Port’s address to his friend before he was murdered but detectives failed to look into it.

Port also planted a fake suicide note on the third victim Daniel Whitworth, making it appear as though Mr Whitworth had murdered Mr Kovari and killed himself out of guilt.

Officers failed to verify the handwriting did not belong to Mr Whitworth or check the GPS on his phone which would have proven he did not kill Mr Kovari. 

They also did not perform forensic tests that would have found Port’s DNA on Mr Whitworth. 

Stephen Port (Credit: Metropolitan Police)

Today, an inquest jury found police failures during the investigation into the death of Mr Walgate “probably” contributed to the deaths of Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth. 

Mistakes made during investigations into all three of their deaths also “probably” contributed to the death of Port’s final victim Mr Taylor. 

Coroner Sarah Munro QC told jurors they could not find “prejudice or homophobia or discrimination on the part of the police made any contribution to the deaths”. 

However, human rights advocate Peter Tatchell said the Metropolitan Police was institutionally homophobic. 

“Evidence given at the Stephen Port inquest revealed the police to be incompetent, negligent, unprofessional and homophobic,” said Tatchell.

“Every gay person who expressed concerns about the deaths was ignored, dismissed and treated with contempt, even the partner of one of the victims.”

The Metropolitan Police has apologised for the failings but denies being institutionally homophobic. 

“Barking and Dagenham police did not investigate the crimes to the best of their ability and the support to the family and loved ones was not as good as it should have been,” said the Met’s East Area Commander, Paul Trevers. “I personally wish to apologise on behalf of the Met for that.”

Mr Trevers explained they have since tried to improve their engagement with LGBT+ people. 

“We have brought in the local community forums for LGBT+ communities to share their views, observations and perceptions and we will continue to work closely with the independent advisory group for LGBT+ people to prove we should be trusted,” he added.

Stephen Port is serving a life sentence in prison for the murders.

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