Homophobia ruled out for jury in Stephen Port victims’ inquests

Stephen Port was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 for the murders of the four men.

Stephen Port was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 for the murders of four men. - Credit: Met Police

A jury is not allowed to say homophobia or prejudice contributed to the murder of four people in Barking by Stephen Port. 

Over 16 months, Port gave four young gay men - Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25 - fatal doses of date rape drug GHB before dumping their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London.

An eight-week inquest has examined the Met Police’s initial response to the deaths.

In 2016, Port, now 46, was jailed for life for the murders.

The inquests 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.

However, on Thursday, Coroner Sarah Munro QC ruled out homophobia as an issue for the jury to consider in its conclusions.

She said: “I direct that you cannot find that prejudice or homophobia or discrimination on the part of the police made any contribution to the deaths.

“I have ruled as a matter of law those are matters on which you may not express any views.”

The coroner went on to outline a series of questions for the jury to answer and directed the jury to make a “short-form” conclusion of unlawful killing for each death.

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Jurors will also look at the police investigations that followed the death of Port’s first victim, fashion student Mr Walgate, from Hull.

Ms Munro said: “You will need to consider whether or not in your view certain features of the three investigations that followed on the discovery of each of the bodies of Anthony, Gabriel and Daniel contributed to the deaths of Port’s subsequent victims.”

They included any “error, omission or circumstance” that either probably or may have contributed to deaths, Ms Munro said.

Potential issues in the Walgate investigation included intelligence checks on Port, who had a previous rape allegation against him, and the examination of his laptop.

The second and third victims, Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth, were found dead by the same dog walker in St Margaret’s graveyard within the space of a few weeks.

Potential failings in the investigations into their deaths included checks on a fake suicide note planted on Mr Whitworth’s body.

Ms Munro warned against the dangers of “hindsight”, saying the jury should make every effort to be fair to the officers involved in the investigations.