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Inquests into deaths of Stephen Port’s victims to focus on ‘missed opportunities’ for police to stop him sooner

Written by on 05/10/2021

An inquiry into the deaths of serial killer Stephen Port’s victims will focus on whether the police “missed opportunities” to stop him sooner, a jury has heard.

Coroner Sarah Munro QC opened the inquests on Tuesday by saying the responsibility for the murders of four young gay men “ultimately rests with one man only – Stephen Port”.

The inquests will look at the “competence and adequacy” of the police investigation into Port’s crimes and whether “opportunities were missed” that might have stopped Port from killing sooner.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout file photos issued by the Metropolitan Police of (left to right) Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari. The long-awaited inquests into the deaths of the victims of Stephen Port will get under way on Tuesday. Over the next 10 weeks, an inquest jury will hear details of how four young gay man met their deaths at the hands of the serial killer between June 2014 and September 2015. Issue date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Image: Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari were murdered by Port

The now 46-year-old killed his victims at his flat in Barking by giving them overdoses of the drug GHB before dumping their bodies nearby, jurors were told.

He was found guilty of the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23; Gabriel Kovari, 22; Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, and handed a whole life order in 2016.

“The trial did not answer the important question of whether the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor might have been prevented,” Ms Munro said on Tuesday.

She Munro added: “If there appear to have been shortcomings in the way in which the police investigated these deaths, we must consider those shortcomings dispassionately and resist the temptation to look for scapegoats.”

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She said the function of the inquests was not to attribute criminal or civil liability, but instead to make findings and reach conclusions about the four deaths.

She said the jury should “beware the wisdom of hindsight” when considering what the police knew at the time of each of the deaths.

Sarah Sak (second right), mother of Anthony Walgate arriving at Barking Town Hall, London, for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of the victims of Stephen Port. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Image: Sarah Sak (second right), mother of Anthony Walgate arriving at Barking Town Hall

The inquest jury will hear more details over the next 10 weeks of how Port’s victims met their deaths between June 2014 and September 2015.

The long-awaited hearings, which were postponed during the pandemic, are being held at Barking Town Hall – yards from where the bodies of the victims were dumped by Port.

Ricky Waumsley boyfriend of Daniel Whitworth, arriving at Barking Town Hall, London, for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of the victims of Stephen Port. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Image: Ricky Waumsley, boyfriend of Daniel Whitworth, arriving for the inquest

It comes six years after Port’s 16-month killing spree was brought to an end.

Jurors were informed that some of the victims’ loved ones were in attendance.

Mr Kovari’s brother, Adam, described him as a “very smart, talented, kind person with a passion for drawing and languages”.

In a statement read out by counsel to the coroner Andrew O’Connor QC, he 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.”

 Sky News

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