Jurors at inquest for Stephen Port victims visit spots where bodies were dumped
Jurors at the inquest for the victims of Stephen Port have visited the spots where their bodies were dumped during his 16-month killing spree.
Between June 2014 and September 2015, the serial killer gave four young gay men fatal doses of the date rape drug GHB at his flat in Barking, east London, then discarded them at various locations just metres away.
Police believe that 6ft 5in Port had wrapped his victims’ bodies in bed sheets and carried them to the sites where they were found.
The long-awaited inquest into the deaths is examining whether police made mistakes in their investigation which could have cost lives by failing to stop Port sooner.
On Thursday, jurors decamped from Barking Town Hall with coroner Sarah Munro QC and lawyers for police and bereaved families and members of the press.
Jurors were invited to examine each of the areas where the four victims had been left and compare them with crime scene photographs of the bodies in situ.
With an escort of uniformed police, the 11 men and women were first guided to outside Port’s former flat in Cooke Street where the young men were attacked.
The court heard the first victim, fashion student Anthony Walgate, 23, was left by Port outside the property.
Ms Munro told the jury that the London Ambulance Service had received a call from Port at 4.05am on June 19 2014 and arrived in Cooke Street nine minutes later.
In the call, which was played to the jury earlier, Port denied seeing what happened to the collapsed man, saying he did not know if he was awake or breathing.
Mr Walgate was pronounced dead at 7.51am, the coroner said.
Jurors went on to St Margaret’s churchyard, some 300 metres away, where 22-year-old Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth, 21, were found dead by the same dog walker three weeks apart.
Ms Munro pointed out a spot beneath a large maple tree beside a stone wall in a corner of the cemetery.
She said Mr Kovari’s body was found at 9.01am on August 28 2014 after the dog walker alerted police.
Mr Whitworth was found at 11.20am on September 20 just a couple of metres away from Mr Kovari.
Aspiring police officer Jack Taylor, 25, was found dead on the other side of the same stone wall.
The court group was escorted to the secluded corner outside the graveyard.
It was there, the jury was told, that Mr Taylor was found dead by a parks worker at 1.10pm September 14 2015.
Ms Munro said the worker flagged down two Metropolitan Police officers who found “no obvious signs of life”.
Mr Taylor was pronounced dead at 4pm by a forensic medical examiner, jurors were told.
During the 30-minute site visit, jurors walked past puzzled members of the public and a school where children could be heard in the playground.
The court had previously heard how Mr Whitworth was found holding a suicide note in his hand, which had been faked by Port in an effort to cover up Mr Kovari’s death.
At the time, a friend of Mr Kovari had queried whether there was a link to the death of Mr Walgate – but that was dismissed by police.
Earlier inquests, later quashed by the High Court, reached open conclusions as a coroner could not rule out third party involvement in Mr Whitworth’s case.
Despite being convicted of lying to police about the circumstances of Mr Walgate’s death, Port was not stopped until after he had killed Mr Taylor.
In 2016, Port, now 46, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of the four murders and sentenced to a whole life order.
On Tuesday, Ms Munro said that police “competence and adequacy” would be a focus of the inquests into the four deaths.
She told jurors: “We will have to consider had the investigations into the earlier deaths been conducted differently, the lives of those who died later might have been saved.”
The inquests are due to go on for up to 10 weeks.
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