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‘My brother could still be here’: Inquests into deaths of serial killer’s victims to focus on ‘missed opportunities’

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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.

BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Undated handout file photos issued by the Metropolitan Police of (left to right) Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari. The long-awaited inquests into the deaths of the victims of Stephen Port will get under way on Tuesday. Over the next 10 weeks, an inquest jury will hear details of how four young gay man met their deaths at the hands of the serial killer between June 2014 and September 2015. Issue date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Image: Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari were murdered by Port

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.

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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.”

Sarah Sak (second right), mother of Anthony Walgate arriving at Barking Town Hall, London, for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of the victims of Stephen Port. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Image: Sarah Sak (second right), mother of Anthony Walgate arriving at Barking Town Hall

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.

Ricky Waumsley boyfriend of Daniel Whitworth, arriving at Barking Town Hall, London, for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of the victims of Stephen Port. Picture date: Tuesday October 5, 2021.
Image: Ricky Waumsley, boyfriend of Daniel Whitworth, arriving for the inquest

It comes six years after Port’s 16-month killing spree was brought to an end.

A view of St Margaret's Church in Barking, east London, as alleged serial killer , Stephen Port 40, of Cooke Street, Barking in east London, has appeared in Barkingside Magistrates accused of drugging and murdering four young men he met on gay websites, and dumping their bodies in and around a churchyard in east London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday October 19, 2015. The bodies of two of the men were found by a dog walker less than a month apart in the churchyard of St Margaret's Church in North Street in Barking, while another was found near the ruins of Barking Abbey. See PA story COURTS Poison. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire
Image: St Margaret’s Church in Barking, east London, where Port dumped the bodies of three of his victims

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.”

Handout CCTV image dated 13/9/2015 issued by Metropolitan Police of Stephen Port (right) with 25-year-old Jack Taylor on their way to alleged serial killer's one-bedroom flat in Cooke Street, Barking which was shown to a jury at the Old Bailey. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday October 19, 2016. Port has pleaded not guilty to 29 offences against a total of 12 men - including four murders, seven rapes, four sex assaults and administering a substance with intent. See PA story COURTS Poison. Photo credit should read: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire..NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Image: Stephen Port (right) with 25-year-old Jack Taylor on their way to the serial killer’s one-bedroom flat in Cooke Street, Barking

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”.