Families of victims of Barking serial killer hope BBC drama will highlight police failings

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:12 12 February 2019

Stephen Port

Stephen Port


The families of the men killed by serial killer Stephen Port have welcomed a TV drama they hope will highlight police failings.

Clockwise from top left: Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and  Anthony Walgate. Picture credit: Met Police.Clockwise from top left: Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate. Picture credit: Met Police.

The actors Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith will star in the new BBC One drama which has the working title The Barking Murders.

The programme makers said it will tell the story from the families’ point of the view and focus on their battle to uncover the truth about what happened.

Port, 43, was given a whole life sentence in November 2016 after a jury found he gave his victims fatal doses of the date rape drug GHB.

He dumped the bodies of Jack Taylor, 25, from Dagenham; Anthony Walgate, 23, from Hull; Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend in Kent, and 22-year-old Gabriel Kovari from Slovakia, near his flat in Cooke Street, Barking, over 15 months.

Stephen Merchant. Picture: Carolyn DjanoglyStephen Merchant. Picture: Carolyn Djanogly

Daniel’s stepmother, Mandy Pearson, speaking for the families, said: “We all wished that this story didn’t need to be told, but as so much has been written and said about Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack, we felt it important to contribute to what we hope will be an accurate portrayal of them as young men and not victims.

“We also hope it will show the world the considerable failings of the Metropolitan Police in investigating the case.”

In December 2016 relatives of Jack, Anthony and Daniel accused the Met of homophobia and incompetence after officers failed to link the bodies found within 500 metres of St Margaret’s Church, Barking.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct is to publish a report into the Met’s initial response to the deaths.

Sheridan Smith. Picture: Nick JamesSheridan Smith. Picture: Nick James

Stephen Merchant, is to play Port with Sheridan Smith playing Anthony’s mum, Sarah Sak.

Jaime Winstone is to play Donna Taylor, one of Jack’s two sisters.

Stephen said: “This is a story that can’t be ignored – how four young lives were lost and their families’ brave attempt to uncover what happened.

“It’s a privilege to be part of telling it.”

Jaime Winstone. Picture: Ian West/PA ImagesJaime Winstone. Picture: Ian West/PA Images

Sheridan added: “Along with the other families, Sarah went through so much heartache. It would have been easy for her to just accept what she was being told by the police, but something inside made her keep fighting for her son.”

Filming is due to start in the spring.

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