Police errors 'probably' contributed to deaths of three Stephen Port murder victims, jury rules
- Credit: Met Police
Police errors in the investigation into Stephen Port's murders “probably” contributed to the death of Port’s four victims, an inquest jury has ruled.
Port was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 after he took the lives of Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate.
He drugged and raped the men, before dumping their bodies near his home in Cooke Street.
Original inquests into the deaths of Mr Kovari, 22, from Slovakia, and Mr Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, resulted in open verdicts, but these were quashed following Port's conviction for murder.
The deaths of Mr Walgate, a 23-year-old fashion student, and Mr Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, had been treated as non-suspicious.
Judge Sarah Munro has presided over new inquests into all four deaths in front of a jury at Barking Town Hall since October.
It has heard from various witnesses, which included accusations that evidence was dismissed due to "institutional homophobia", assumptions were made because the victims were gay, and there was not enough engagement with the LGBT community.
Ms Munro has already directed jurors to return conclusions that the four men were “unlawfully killed”, but said the jury cannot find homophobia or prejudice contributed to the murders.
Jurors have now said Mr Walgate was unlawfully killed, and police failings "probably" contributed to the subsequent deaths of Mr Kovari, Mr Whitworth and Mr Taylor.
The jury said: “We believe there were fundamental failures in these investigations, which were at a basic level.”
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Ms Munro told the hearing she intended to write a prevention of future deaths report.
She said: “These inquests, on any view, have raised a number of serious concerns and I have invited submissions from legal representatives.”
The report will be published in the new year, she said.
Concluding the hearing, which lasted for 50 minutes, the coroner thanked family members and friends of the victims for their dignity and composure.
She said: “May I also express the hope that you have finally been listened to, and you have the answers to, if not all then some of your questions.”
Additional reporting by PA.