Judge says police response to Grindr Killer Stephen Port was ‘surprising’ as new inquest called
The families of two men murdered by Grindr killer Stephen Port are calling for a joint investigation into their deaths.
Port was convicted a year ago of murdering Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, in 2014.
Their original inquests recorded open verdicts, but the court heard “new evidence” had since been uncovered.
Quashing the original verdicts, Lord Justice Holroyde said new inquests were “both necessary and desirable”.
A suicide note was found in the hand of Mr Whitworth claiming he accidentally killed his lover Mr Kovari and had decided to take his own life.
It turned out the note had been written by Port, but Mr Whitworth and Mr Kovari did not know each other.
Police accepted the note at face value and recorded the deaths as non-suspicious.
Port also murdered Anthony Walgate, 23, and Jack Taylor, 25.
The failure to decipher the note meant the coroner did not have key information at the inquests in June 2015.
Edward Pleeth, representing the senior coroner for the eastern area of Greater London, said a “significant amount of new evidence” had since been uncovered.
Lord Justice Holroyde told the court it seemed “surprising” the original police investigation had “revealed so little” about the true circumstances.
He ruled the coroner had been given “insufficient” evidence to give her the “full picture” regarding the deaths.
Lawyer Andrew Petherbridge, of Hudgell Solicitors and who is representing the four families, said holding the inquests together “will help identify if institutional failings and discrimination within the Metropolitan Police service played any roles in their deaths”.
17 police officer are currently being investigated about their role in the Stephen Port investigation, which is expected to return conclusions in January 2018.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating how officers dealt with the case after serious questions were raised by families of the victims.
Stephen Port, 41, was locked up for life after murdering four victims by drugging, raping and murdering the victims.
Despite three bodies being found in the same churchyard – two by the same woman walking her dog – the Metropolitan Police failed to join the dots between the cases.
More than 700 documents and around 200 statements are being investigated in the IPCC investigation.
IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said earlier this year: “Over the coming weeks our investigators will be undertaking interviews with the 17 officers who have been served with notices as part of the investigation.”
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Former Met Police boss, Sir Beranrd Hogan-Howe, previously admitted police failed to spot the four murders were connected.
Sir Hogan-Howe said: “We should have spotted earlier there was something wrong there.
“No-one put the connection together at the time.
“It just wasn’t realised there was a connection between the events and each of the events didn’t have an obvious suspicious element.”
He added, in the interview with LBC, that: “In retrospect, it looks obvious but at the time each officer had to deal with the circumstances they found.”