Stephen Port: Met apologises for police failings after inquest finding
- Credit: Met Police
The Met has apologised for police failings which an inquest jury found were “probably” a factor in the death of victims of Stephen Port.
Barking serial killer Port was jailed for life in 2016 after he drugged and raped Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor then dumped their bodies near his Cooke Street flat.
After a seven-week inquest into the deaths at Barking Town Hall, jurors today (December 10) said first victim Mr Walgate was "unlawfully killed" and police failings probably contributed to the subsequent deaths of the other three men.
Met assistant commissioner Helen Ball said it was “a devastating finding” that the deaths of those men “could probably have been prevented had the initial police responses and investigations been better”.
She said: “I give my own and the Met’s heartfelt apologies.
"All those who loved Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack expected a professional and thorough police investigation into their deaths and it is a great sadness for me and everybody at the Met that this didn't happen.”
Ms Ball said she and Commissioner Cressida Dick have offered to meet with their families and Mr Whitworth’s partner to hear their views and concerns.
Judge Sarah Munro, who presided over the inquest, has already directed jurors to return conclusions that the four men were “unlawfully killed”, but said they cannot find homophobia or prejudice contributed to the murders.
Port murdered the four men between June 2014 and September 2015.
Original inquests into the deaths of Mr Kovari, 22, from Slovakia, and Mr Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, resulted in open verdicts, which were quashed after Port was convicted of murder.
The deaths of 23-year-old Mr Walgate and Dagenham 25-year-old Mr Taylor had been treated as non-suspicious.
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Following today's finding, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) says it is considering whether to reopen an investigation into the way the Met handled inquiries into the deaths.
IOPC regional director Graham Beesley said: “We are examining if anything was said by the officers who gave evidence during the inquests which could alter our findings and give grounds to reopen our investigation."
The IOPC's previous investigation, which concluded in August 2018, found no officer had a case to answer for gross misconduct, but "the performance of nine officers fell below the standard required."