10 November 2021

Port victim laughed off concern over ‘dirty old man’, inquest told

10 November 2021

A lodger of Stephen Port laughed off concern he was moving in with a “dirty old man”, shortly before he was killed, an inquest has heard.

Sex predator Port gave fatal doses of date rape drug GHB to four young gay men, and dumped their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London.

Police allegedly missed opportunities to identify Port after his second victim, Gabriel Kovari, 22, was killed in August 2014.

Leads were not followed up to find Mr Kovari’s friend “Carl”, or identify Facebook contact Jon Luck, who befriended the victim’s grieving boyfriend, jurors were told.

On Wednesday, Detective Inspector Mark Richards described how officers, who investigated all four murders, later traced Mr Kovari’s friend Karl Kamgdon, who shed light on his last movements.

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

Mr Kovari had texted Mr Kamgdon about finding a free room in Barking and sent him pictures of Port’s flat.

Mr Kamgdon told him: “I find it weird he lets you stay for free. You sure he’s safe. There’s some crazy people out there.”

After his first night, Mr Kamgdon asked how it was, and Mr Kovari told him he did not have a room and had slept on the sofa.

Mr Kamgdon texted back: “He will try to sleep with you. Dirty old man.”

Mr Kovari laughed it off, jurors were told.

Stephen Port was jailed for life for the murders of four young men (Met Police/PA) (PA Wire)

During the exchange, Mr Kovari wrote: “I don’t want to sleep with him in his bed. He’s a bit different.”

On August 25 2014, Mr Kamgdon sent a message asking if he was all right.

He received the reply: “I’m fine,” signed off with a smiley face emoji.

Mr Richards said that was the last known message from Mr Kovari’s phone.

He said he believed “firmly” that the final message was sent by Port from Mr Kovari’s phone, because of a slight shift in language.

Three days later, Mr Kovari was found dead in St Margaret’s graveyard in Barking.

(left to right) Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari (Met Police/PA) (PA Media)

That week, Port called his sister, Sharon Port, and told her there was a body in his flat, jurors heard.

Mr Richards said Port’s account mixed up Mr Kovari with his first victim, Anthony Walgate.

Ms Port said: “Stephen told me there is a body in his flat, in his bed. He could not wake him up.”

She said he told her that they had both been taking drugs and gone to sleep.

In a statement read to court, she said: “I was shocked and I told him that he needed to go to the police.”

Port told her that he had spent 20 hours with the police, the inquest heard.

Port was linked to Facebook friend Jon Luck, who had engaged in chat with Mr Kovari’s boyfriend, Thierry Amodio, in the wake of his death.

Port, posing as Jon Luck, claimed to have had sex with Mr Kovari before his death, jurors had heard.

He exchanged about 1,000 messages with Mr Amodio in which he “faked grief” and was repeatedly urged to speak to police.

Mr Richards said: “When reviewing material coming up to trial I noticed some very strong similarities with how Jon Luck composed messages and spoke, and how Stephen Port composed his messages and spoke.

“I then set about a series of actions for my team to confirm or disprove Stephen Port was Jon Luck.”

At his murder trial, Port admitted that the fake Facebook profile was his, the court heard.

Port’s DNA was also identified on sunglasses Mr Kovari was wearing when he was found dead, jurors heard.

About three weeks after Mr Kovari was found dead the third victim, Daniel Whitworth, 21, was dumped just metres away.

A suicide note, initially attributed to Mr Whitworth, was found on his body appearing take responsibility of Mr Kovari’s death.

Mr Richards told jurors that a handwriting expert “unequivocally” concluded it was written by Port and police even recovered the notepad it had come from.

In 2016 Port, now 46, was handed a whole-life order for the murders of Mr Walgate, 23, Mr Kovari, Mr Whitworth, and Jack Taylor, 25, between June 2014 and September 2015.

The inquests at Barking Town Hall are examining whether lives could have been saved had police acted differently.

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