Judge appointed to lead inquest into deaths of Barking serial killer’s victims

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

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

A judge has been appointed to lead the inquest into the deaths of four men murdered by Barking serial killer Stephen Port.

Stephen Port. Picture: Met Police

Stephen Port. Picture: Met Police - Credit: Archant

Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro QC, assistant coroner for east London, will take charge of the inquest into the deaths of Jack Taylor, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Anthony Walgate.

The four men were murdered by Port, of Cooke Street, between August 2014 and September 2015.

Their families have previously said they hope the new inquest will expose the catalogue of failings by Scotland Yard that allowed the 44-year-old to keep killing.

A pre-inquest review - adjourned from November last year - has been set for Friday, July 5 at the Old Bailey.

It will examine, among other things, the scope of the inquest, the witnesses to be called, whether a jury will be appointed and the location of the inquest.

Andrew Petherbridge, the lawyer from Hudgell Solicitors acting for the victims' families, said: "The families welcome the appointment of a coroner.

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"They've had a very long wait for answers but feel positive that a date has been set and that the inquest process can now resume."

Initial inquests into the deaths of Mr Kovari, 22, who lived in Lewisham but was originally from Slovakia, and Mr Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, recorded an open verdict.

These took place in 2015, before police linked their deaths to those of Mr Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, and Mr Walgate, 23, from Hull.

They were quashed by the High Court after Port was jailed for life for the murders, as well as a string of sexual offences.

During the Old Bailey trial in 2016, the court heard how Port stalked his victims online and plied them with drinks spiked with fatal doses of GHB before dumping their bodies in or near St Margaret's Church, Barking.

He was jailed for lying about his involvement in the first murder - that of Mr Walgate - only for officers to leave him free to strike again.

While on bail before sentencing, Port murdered twice more, then once again after his release from prison.