Stephen Port inquests: Victim's father denies saying son wrote suicide note
Emily Pennink, PA Old Bailey Correspondent
- Credit: Met Police
The father of a victim of Stephen Port has told inquest jurors he never confirmed that his son had written a "suicide note" found on his body.
Daniel Whitworth, 21, was the third young man given a fatal dose of GHB by Barking sexual predator Port during a 16-month killing spree.
His body was found in a churchyard near Port’s flat, metres from where Gabriel Kovari was found dead a few weeks before.
A fake suicide note Port planted on Mr Whitworth’s body appeared to take responsibility for Mr Kovari’s death, an inquest at Barking Town Hall has heard.
Giving evidence today (Thursday, November 4), Adam Whitworth said he had brought up his son virtually single handed and even home-schooled him.
At the time of his death, his son was in a relationship with Ricky Waumsley and was working as a chef.
Mr Whitworth said he last saw his son in a chance meeting at London Bridge station a few weeks before his death but they continued to exchange texts.
On the day his son’s body was found, officers arrived at his house as he was getting ready for work.
He told jurors: “My attitude was at the time I tried to carry on as if nothing had happened.
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“When it transpired they said he has been found with a suicide note, I said ‘well you could have the wrong person’.
“They said ‘no, we have got documents. He’s been identified’. That was very difficult.
“They stayed for 20 minutes, half an hour. We did not know what to do after that.
“We went round to my mum’s because we had to tell her… that was very, very, very hard.”
Jurors heard that Mr Whitworth was shown a section of the suicide note and viewed the whole thing about 10 days later.
Detective Constable Yinka Adeyemo-Phillips had previously given evidence to say Mr Whitworth confirmed the handwriting was Daniel’s.
Andrew O’Connor QC, counsel for the coroner, asked if he remembered saying that.
Mr Whitworth replied: “I definitely did not say it was.
“Me and (my partner) Mandy looked at it. Cannot confirm it was Daniel’s handwriting.
“We sent it straight off to Ricky in Gravesend to look at it and he could not confirm it was Daniel’s either.
“Anyway, she said, ‘Is this Daniel’s handwriting?’, and I said ‘I cannot confirm it is Daniel’s handwriting, I don’t know’.”
The witness told jurors he tried to find out more information from the Barking and Dagenham Post and raised his concerns with police.
Mr O’Connor asked: “Were you concerned that there was more to this?”
Mr Whitworth replied: “Yes, definitely.”
On further conversations with another officer, Detective Constable Paul Slaymaker, the witness said: “He would push aside our concerns.”
Mr Whitworth said he raised issues about the apparent suicide note, having viewed it in full.
He said: “He (the officer) pushed it aside – ‘Daniel was in a strange state at the time’. He had an answer for everything.”
On examining the note, Mr Whitworth said: “I was not there myself as a handwriting expert, I saw this note for five or 10 minutes.
“I was desperate to see that note. I was there to read through it and see what it is all about, checking the handwriting was not my top priority.”
Mr Whitworth said he assumed it would be examined by a handwriting expert, saying his son was left-handed.
He said: “There was pressure to confirm that is it genuine.”
He said he pointed out there was nothing in the note that identified it as Daniel’s - no words or phrases he would use or personal information.
An earlier inquest, which recorded an open verdict, heard that the note was also checked against a sample from Daniel’s diary.
Afterwards, Mr Whitworth’s mother voiced concern there must have been a “third party” involved and Mr Waumsley was “very angry” and thought the police had not done their job properly, jurors heard.
In 2016, Port, now aged 46, was found guilty of murdering Anthony Walgate, 23, Mr Kovari, 22, Mr Whitworth, 21, and final victim Jack Taylor between June 2014 and September 2015.
The inquests continue.