Inquest into deaths of Barking serial killer's victims will consider whether police were institutionally homophobic
PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 November 2019
The inquest into the deaths of four men murdered by Barking serial killer Stephen Port will be heard by a jury.
Assistant coroner Judge Sarah Munro QC made the ruling during a pre-inquest review today (Friday, November 15).
Leslie Thomas QC, counsel for the victims' families, spoke of the need of a jury and highlighted a question within the report in relation to the death of Port's final victim Jack Taylor - "Could and should the police have done more?"
He said: "At this stage, I argue that there is a lot that could and should have been done."
But Patrick Gibbs QC, representing the investigating officers, said: "The wishes of each of the four families are extremely important. But it is not the only thing that matters."
He highlighted the need for jurors to be able to cope with the content that would be heard.
The original inquests into the deaths of Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Slovakia, and Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, were quashed following Port's murder conviction.
The deaths of Anthony Walgate, 23, from Hull, and Mr Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, were originally treated as non-suspicious.
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All four were drugged with GHB and raped by Port before being dumped near to his Cooke Street home.
Counsel to the inquests Andrew O'Connor QC explained that part of the investigation would be into whether the police were institutionally homophobic.
He added: "One of the core issues to be investigated in the inquest will be that of whether the police investigations into all of the four deaths were affected by prejudice in respect of sexuality."
The list of witnesses being called to speak at the inquest has not yet been determined as disclosure of evidence has not been completed, the court was told.
Mr O'Connor added: "All of the investigation from Operation Lilford has been passed to us by the Metropolitan Police. All of that is being considered by our team."
Operation Lilford was the police investigation into Port, who was 44 when he was given a whole life sentence in November 2016.
Judge Munro also agreed that 15 police officers involved in the case would be given interested persons status.
The inquest is due to start in January 2020.