An inquiry into the deaths of serial killer Stephen Port’s victims will focus on whether the police “missed opportunities” to stop him sooner, a jury has heard.
The brother of one of the victim’s told the inquiry that “had the police done their job my brother could still be here with us today”.
Coroner Sarah Munro QC opened the inquests on Tuesday by saying the responsibility for the murders of four young gay men “ultimately rests with one man only – Stephen Port”.
The inquests will look at the “competence and adequacy” of the police investigation into Port’s crimes and whether “opportunities were missed” that might have stopped Port from killing sooner.
The now 46-year-old killed his victims at his flat in Barking by giving them overdoses of the drug GHB before dumping their bodies nearby, jurors were told.
He was found guilty of the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23; Gabriel Kovari, 22; Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, and handed a whole life order in 2016.
“The trial did not answer the important question of whether the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor might have been prevented,” Ms Munro said on Tuesday.
She Munro added: “If there appear to have been shortcomings in the way in which the police investigated these deaths, we must consider those shortcomings dispassionately and resist the temptation to look for scapegoats.”
The inquest jury will hear more details over the next 10 weeks of how Port’s victims met their deaths between June 2014 and September 2015.
The long-awaited hearings, which were postponed during the pandemic, are being held at Barking Town Hall – yards from where the bodies of the victims were dumped by Port.
It comes six years after Port’s 16-month killing spree was brought to an end.
Mr Kovari’s brother, Adam, described him as a “very smart, talented, kind person with a passion for drawing and languages”.
In a statement read out by counsel to the coroner Andrew O’Connor QC, he said: “My brother was an exceptional and ambitious young man that I am sure would be leading an amazing life today, if he had a chance.
“He make a mistake of trusting people too much. This cost him life, but it should not have done.
“In my opinion, had the police done their job my brother could still be here with us today.”
Mr Taylor wanted to become a police officer before he was killed, his sister Donna told the inquiry.
She said the family would “never stop fighting for our Jack”.