Inquests into the deaths of two victims of Barking murderer Stephen Port quashed following legal challenge
- Credit: Archant
The High Court has today quashed the former inquest verdicts on two of Stephen Port’s murder victims, as the families take an “important step” in their fight for justice.
An inquest into the deaths of all four of Port’s victims will now jointly be held after police failed to see the link between the deaths of the gay men, which the families’ lawyers hope will help uncover any homophobia which might have contributed to their deaths.
The original inquests for two of the men, Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Daniel Whitworth, 21, were carried out in June 2015, over a year before Port’s conviction.
Port murdered the men using the date rape drug GHB after luring them to his Barking home for sex, before dumping their bodies in St Margaret’s Church graveyard, which was 500 metres from his house.
At the request of the lawyers of the victims’ families, an application for a new inquest was made by the senior coroner for east London, Ms Nadia Persaud.
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New information that came to light after Port’s sentencing in November 2016 can now be used to help the coroner make an informed verdict, she argued.
The original inquest reached an ‘open conclusion,’ meaning there was not sufficient evidence to reach an absolute verdict.
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Mandy Pearson, step-mother of Mr Whitworth, said: “This is an important start to getting some of the many wrongs concerning Daniel’s death corrected.
“The very least we can do for Daniel is to get the facts about his death recorded correctly and, with a new inquest, we are hopeful we can do that for him and for Gabriel, Anthony and Jack.”
Inquests into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, 23, and Jack Taylor, 25, have not yet taken place.
Andrew Petherbridge of Hudgell Solicitors, who are representing the four families, said: “This is another important step in the families’ fight for justice. We’re very grateful to the coroner for her intervention.
“Holding all four inquests together for Gabriel, Daniel, Anthony and Jack will help identify if institutional failings and discrimination within the Metropolitan Police played any roles in their deaths.”
Port is currently serving a full life prison sentence in prison after being convicted last year.