10 December 2021

Victim’s boyfriend ‘treated differently by police because he was gay’

10 December 2021

Chef Daniel Whitworth and his boyfriend Ricky Waumsley were a young couple living happily together in Kent when tragedy struck.

The pair first met in the seaside town Margate, where Mr Waumsley was living and Mr Whitworth was on holiday, in August 2010, and just over a year later they moved in together in Gravesend.

By 2014, Mr Whitworth was working as a chef in Canary Wharf in London and Mr Waumsley for a pharmaceutical company, spending their free time at home, socialising with friends and family and enjoying holidays.

But on September 18 that year, Mr Whitworth did not return home, and was found dead in a churchyard in Barking.

Ricky Waumsley told the PA news agency he felt excluded by the police investigating his boyfriend’s death. (PA)

Recalling the moment police told him the news, Mr Waumsley told the PA news agency: “I broke down and cried and was quite hysterical.

“As you can well imagine lots of thoughts go through your mind. I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself, I had literally just lost my partner. My life had literally just gone downhill.”

Detectives said that 21-year-old Mr Whitworth had left a note stating that he had taken his own life after accidentally causing the death of another man, Gabriel Kovari, whose body had been found nearby just a few weeks before.

Mr Waumsley said: “I was absolutely shocked and confused because for a start I didn’t know who Gabriel Kovari was, and I didn’t see any behaviour change in him in the weeks prior.

“It didn’t make sense to me. So I just didn’t understand why he would have done such a thing.”

In fact the note was a fake produced by serial killer Stephen Port who had murdered both Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth with overdoses of the drug GHB and wanted to cover his tracks.

The fake suicide note left with Mr Whitworth’s body. (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Archive)

But a series of blunders and omissions by police meant they failed to uncover Port’s lies.

He had already claimed the life of his first victim Anthony Walgate in June 2014, and would go on to kill Jack Taylor in September 2015 before investigators caught up.

This was despite loved ones of the four men repeatedly raising concerns about the substandard nature of the police inquiries and offering vital information which was ignored.

Mr Whitworth and Mr Waumsley were a couple who would stay in touch every day via text and Facebook messages while they were apart, providing key evidence as to where they were at any one time.

But detectives only asked Mr Waumsley where Mr Whitworth had been on the night before Gabriel’s body was found.

If proper phone checks had been carried out, it would have been clear that Mr Whitworth had not been in Barking when Mr Kovari died.

Gabriel Kovari, the second victim of serial killer Stephen Port. (Handout picture/PA) (PA Media)

Detectives also failed to properly analyse the handwriting on the fake suicide note, and did not order DNA testing on the bedsheet on which he was found lying.

Mr Waumsley said: “If they had done both of those things, the handwriting check and the DNA tests on the bed sheet, they would have found out that one it wasn’t Daniel’s handwriting and two it would have had Stephen Port’s DNA (on the sheet).”

He felt he was treated differently to Mr Whitworth’s stepmother Amanda, who was given information about the investigation even though she was not married to his father Adam at that time.

The couple were shown the fake suicide note during a visit to the site in Barking where Mr Whitworth was found in 2014, but Mr Waumsley was not allowed to see it.

“I did ask if I could see the letter for myself, but the response I got was sorry you’re not next of kin so we can’t show you.

“I was angry because I wanted to see. If he’d done what it said on the letter I wanted to see and read for myself what he had done and why he had done that.

“Mandy and Adam were unmarried and they treated them differently to how they treated me.

“I felt that they were just pushing me aside, getting the information they wanted regarding who Daniel was as a person and then just not really involving me in anything.”

A large maple tree in a corner of the walled cemetery in St Margaret’s churchyard in Barking, east London, where the bodies of Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Daniel Whitworth, 21, were found dead by the same dog walker three weeks apart in 2014. (Emily Pennink/PA) (PA Wire)

Police did not allow Mr Waumsley to see the note until the first inquest into Mr Whitworth and Mr Kovai’s deaths in June 2015, when he noticed that the contents were completely impersonal and did not mention any loved ones.

The inquest hearing also laid bare the holes in the investigations into the men’s deaths.

Four months later in October that year, Port was finally arrested for four murders.

Mr Waumsley, who still lives in Gravesend, believes that as well as being incompetent, police were homophobic towards the victims and made assumptions about their lifestyles.

“I believe it’s a mixture of everything. So a bit of laziness, incompetence, lack of training.

“But I absolutely stand by that they were being homophobic towards these four victims and making general assumptions that they’re all young, gay men who take drugs.”

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