Stephen Port inquests: Partner 'dismissed because he was gay, unmarried'
- Credit: Met Police
The partner of one of serial killer Stephen Port's victims was “pushed out” by police investigating the death because they were an unmarried gay couple, an inquest has heard.
Just days after police were accused of “institutional homophobia” over the case, Ricky Waumsley told the inquest into Daniel Whitworth’s death that he felt excluded by detectives and was not allowed to see an apparent suicide note left by the young chef until a year after he was found dead.
He told jurors at Barking Town Hall on Monday: “If it was a straight couple I wouldn’t have been pushed out as much as I was at the time.
“They dismissed me in every single way. I believe, and I stand by it, it was because we were a gay, unmarried couple.”
All four were drugged with fatal doses of GHB and raped by Port. He was sentenced to a whole life sentence in November 2016.
Mr Whitworth’s body was discovered in Barking on September 20, 2014.
Mr Waumsley said the police should not have relied on the 21-year-old’s grieving parents to verify the handwriting.
He told the jury: "I thought they could have done more, they could have at least checked the handwriting and made sure that it was correct, and not just asked people at the time who were grieving and who are not in that profession looking at handwriting."
In the days after the young chef’s death, the police refused to show Mr Waumsley - his partner of four years - the suicide note.
On September 30, 2014, Mr Waumsley visited the site where Mr Whitworth was found, along with his partner’s father Adam and stepmother Amanda, who were unmarried at the time.
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Police officers took Adam and Amanda off to discuss the investigation privately without Mr Waumsley, which “really p*ssed me off and made me feel pushed out by the police," he said.
It was the following year, at the first inquest into Mr Whitworth’s death, that Mr Waumsley saw the note for the first time.
During the 2015 inquest, it also emerged that officers had not DNA-tested the bedsheet on which Mr Whitworth had been found or the drugs bottle discovered with his body.
There was also some bruising on his chest suggesting manual handling, but this had not been investigated, and police had failed to track down the man referred to in the fake suicide note as “the guy I was with last night”.
Mr Waumsley had told police that Mr Whitworth had almost never done drugs and he had never heard of the drug GHB before his boyfriend died.
But when Mr Whitworth’s stepmother asked officers what the drug was, they allegedly told her to ask Mr Waumsley “because he should know”.
The inquests heard officers were overstretched when supervising the Whitworth investigation.
Det Insp Rolf Schamberger attended the special post-mortem examination carried out on Mr Whitworth’s body on September 23, 2014, with acting Det Sgt Stuart Denley.
In notes following the procedure, Mr Denley made reference to bruising found on Mr Whitworth’s underarms that the pathologist said could be consistent with being carried or moved before or after death.
But the officer instead put forward the idea that the marks could have occurred during rough sex.
The pathologist "strongly recommended" that officers have the bedsheet on which Mr Whitworth was found examined, but they did not.
Mr Schamberger closed the investigations into the deaths of Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth in January 2015, despite admitting to the jury that a “significant number of unanswered questions” remained at that stage.
Counsel to the inquest Andrew O’Connor QC asked him: "Is, in fact, what happened here that you were a busy man leading a busy team, and as far as you and your team were concerned, this was a case about two young gay men engaged in chemsex, you regarded them as running all the risks associated with engaging in chemsex and that ultimately you just accepted what the note said and didn’t pursue the matter further?"
He replied: "I agree with the part about the busy team. In terms of accepting what happened and shutting it down because of that, I don’t accept that."
But he agreed he had made a “dreadful” mistake in failing to realise Mr Waumsley had given a statement to say Mr Whitworth was at home on August 27 and so could not have had anything to do with Mr Kovari’s death.
He also admitted he had rushed the closing report for the investigation into Mr Whitworth’s death, using Mr Kovari’s as a template and leaving the wrong name in at one point.
It wrongly said no injuries were found on his body and that a diary had been seized to compare the handwriting with the note.