04 November 2021

Father of Stephen Port victim denies confirming suicide note

04 November 2021

The father of the youngest victim of serial killer Stephen Port has told jurors he never confirmed a suicide note found his body was written by his son.

Kent chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, was the third young man to be given a fatal dose of GHB by sexual predator Port during a 16-month killing spree.

His body was found in a churchyard near Port’s flat in Barking, east London, 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.

A fake suicide note written by Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)

Giving evidence on Thursday, 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.

“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.”

Daniel Whitworth with his grandmother, Barbara Whitworth (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

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.”

Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Wire)

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.”

A tree in St Margaret’s churchyard in Barking where the bodies of Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth were found (Emily Pennink/PA) (PA Wire)

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.

Stepmother Amanda Whitworth told jurors that Daniel was in a “good place” before his death, looking forward to a new job closer to his grandmother.

She could not understand how he could have hidden having killed Mr Kovari, without seeming “delirious”.

She said: “We were very adamant this was not making any sense. He was a lovely guy with all his priorities in the right place.”

She told jurors she felt “someone unsavoury” must have been involved and relayed her thoughts to Dc Slaymaker.

She said: “He was going along the lines you will have some of the answers, you will not have all the answers and there will be some things we may never know.”

On a visit to the spot where Daniel was found, she said: “The thing in my mind was that he wasn’t a religious boy and I couldn’t work out why he was in Barking, I couldn’t work out why he would choose a spot like that and nowhere near home.

“I remember having a conversation with Paul Slaymaker. I touched a number of things, like how did he get here, where has he been.”

On examining the note herself, she thought it was “a bit scruffy”.

She told jurors: “They (police) said that they would check it out and – maybe I watch too much Columbo I don’t know – I thought they would check it out properly, it would go through some sort of examination.

Mrs Whitworth said she was “not happy at all” after the original inquest, and words were exchanged with the police.

“I used the word murder. I said you have got to find who this person was, not as murder probably but as an assistant.

“I could not go there – Daniel did not have any enemies. I could not believe someone would knock him unconscious, rape him, kill him, leave him somewhere.

“It was beginning to look very sinister. I was holding my breath and I could not really believe it. I asked if we could carry on with lines of investigation and they said ‘no even though it’s an open verdict that does not mean we can carry on with it’.

“I locked myself in the loo and sobbed like a baby.”

She added: “I feel like it it’s waking up after a deep sleep. I just feel this was just shoddy and I feel like they took advantage of our nice personalities. We were easy to deal with, I think too easy, and as time has gone on I’m actually quite bitter about that.”

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.

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