Furious families blast cops for failing to stop serial killer Stephen Port and blame homophobia for bungled probesDecember 10, 2021
FAMILY members of dating app murderer Stephen Port's four victims today blasted Met cops who investigated their deaths as "unfit for duty".
Loved ones of Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and 25-year-old Jack Taylor said they thought homophobia played a part in what was branded a "mindless" attitude from investigating officers.
It was ruled at an inquest today "fundamental failures" by police into the death of Port's first victim, Anthony Walgate, probably contributed to the death of Gabriel Kovari, the second young man to die at his hand.
The Metropolitan Police apologised over the "devastating" findings, and the Independent Office for Police Complaints (IOPC) confirmed it is considering reopening its inquiry into the bungled original investigations.
The inquest was held to determine if police working in Barking, East London, during Port's 16-month killing spree between 2014 and 2015 in any way contributed to the deaths.
The coroner, Sarah Munro QC, said a prevention of future deaths report would be published in the new year, as the inquests had raised a "number of serious concerns".
Donna Walgate, the sister of Port's final victim, called on the police watchdog to "rip up" its report and reopen the investigation into the officers involved.
Port, now 46, is expected to die behind bars after he was found guilty of luring the young, gay men to his flat before plying them with a fatal dose of GHB and dumping their bodies nearby.
Port, a trained chef, met the four men on gay dating app Grindr before carrying out sick "drug rape" fantasies where he filmed himself abusing the unconscious men.
He was reportedly obsessed with drug-rape pornography, and was attracted to smaller, boyish-type men known as 'twinks'.
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The step-mum of 21-year-old chef Daniel Whitworth, Port's third victim, said it was "a huge tragedy" that three of the four men Port killed would still be alive had police properly investigated the first death.
Amanda Whitworth told how she wept as she heard evidence during the inquest, which began in the first week of October.
The step-mum said she was upset by what she claimed was some of the cops' "indifferent attitude," adding: "They've proved that they're still unfit for duty.
"Still, even now. They've no idea that they've got a case to answer."
Relatives gave evidence throughout the weeks-long inquest suggesting cops investigating the string of very similar murders assumed the victims had taken the drugs themselves and attended "chem sex" parties.
The boyfriend of Daniel Whitworth, Ricky Waumsley, said: "I absolutely stand by that they were being homophobic towards these four victims and making general assumptions that they're all young, gay men who take drugs."
Donna Taylor said: "Every one of the boys was not treated like individual humans and we have said that they were discriminated against from the very beginning.
They were seen as druggy, homeless, gay
"The way they were seen as a druggie, homeless, gay. It's not acceptable."
The mum of tragic first victim Anthony Walgate called for officers responsible for the failings to be disciplined and even sacked.
Sarah Sak said the jurors' conclusion is a "massive victory" but she is "disappointed" they were not allowed to consider prejudice.
Mrs Sak added: "If Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack had been girls found in such close proximity there would have been an outcry.
"There would have been a lot more investigation – and there just wasn't."
China Dunning, a pal of Anthony's, said they discussed the drug GHB in the past and he would have never risked taking it, leaving her convinced his death was suspicious.
She said she feared investigators would assume that because he was a young, gay sex worker he would take drugs.
"I wanted to convince them that they shouldn't have that stereotype," she told the jury.
There was an indifferent attitude
Another friend, Kiera Brennan, believed there was "an unconscious bias and assumptions made because of Anthony's sexuality, because of the job that Anthony was doing".
John Pape, a friend of the second victim Gabriel Kovari, blamed "institutional homophobia" for police failings rather than the force simply being over-stretched.
He told the inquests: "The only thing that makes sense about how disturbingly incompetent this investigation was is prejudice.
"If the lives and deaths of young gay and bi men aren't treated with significance and respect, I think that amounts to institutional homophobia."
Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball issued an apology on behalf of the Met but rejected the families' claim that homophobia played a part.
She said: "We don't see institutional homophobia. We don't see homophobia on the part of our officers. We do see all sorts of errors in the investigation, which came together in a truly dreadful way."
The conclusions followed eight weeks of hearings at Barking Town Hall in which police admitted failing to carry out basic checks, send evidence to be forensically examined, and exercise professional curiosity during the 16-month killing spree from June 2014 to September 2015.
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