Mum of Stephen Port victim says BBC drama Four Lives helped her heal: ‘I don’t have nightmares now’
Sarah Sak, the mother of Stephen Port victim Anthony Walgate, says BBC drama Four Lives has helped her to heal from the haunting feeling she could have stopped the killer committing more murders.
The three-part series began on Monday (3 January) on BBC One and follows the families of Port’s young victims – Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor – in their desperate attempts to uncover the truth about their deaths.
The powerful drama particularly highlights how Sak continuously attempted to pressure police to pay closer attention to the details surrounding the death of her 23-year-old son.
Sadly, the Grindr serial killer was able to kill three more young men before Port – now 46 – was finally put behind bars for good.
In a new interview, Sak explained that she is now able to sleep peacefully thanks to the work done by the drama to reveal the full story of her fights to make the police take Walgate’s death more seriously.
She told The Sun: “I had nightmares afterwards, wondering: ‘Could I have done anything else?’ And I finally realised I couldn’t have, because it didn’t matter what I did or what I said – they just wouldn’t investigate, and they just didn’t care. He literally got away with murder for so long.
“This inquest and this drama, has taken a great big lump out of my chest. Thankfully, I don’t have the nightmares now.”
Indeed, Four Lives was originally set for release in 2020, but it had to be delayed due to the inquest into the Metropolitan Police’s handling of Stephen Port’s crimes.
The inquest eventually concluded in December that there were “failings which cannot be overlooked” when it came to the police handling of the investigation and, had they been avoided, some of Port’s victims may still be alive.
Fashion student Walgate was killed by the bus depot chef in June 2014 after they met through online apps.
Port had initially lied to police about the death and claimed he had found Walgate collapsed on the street. He later went on to claim that the death had occurred in his flat after Walgate had taken a drug as they had sex.
Police believed his claim that he had panicked and put the body outside his Barking home and Port was eventually sentenced to eight months behind bars for perverting the course of justice.
However, he managed to kill Gabriel Kovari, 22, in August 2014 and Daniel Whitworth, 21, in September 2014, before beginning his prison sentence. He then murdered Jack Taylor, 25, in June 2015 – three months after his release from jail.
Four Lives sees Extras star Stephen Merchant play Port, while Sheridan Smith portrays Sak in the emotional series.
Sak praised the actress for channelling her rage and anguish at the time as she explained: “Sheridan absolutely nailed me. She was brilliant. I’m quite a gobby person. I’ve always known from the first minute that Anthony was murdered and I would not sit down and be quiet.”
Sak argued that the police’s family liaison officer and Met detectives had mishandled her from day one, and insisted it wasn’t just down to the fact that they were in London while she was living in Hull.
The furious mother also claimed officers could not even pronounce Anthony’s name properly, let alone get hold of his toxicology reports or return his possessions to the family.
She explained that when she pointed out reports of further murders which had taken place in similar circumstances, the police had seemed determined not to link the cases.
Sak told the publication: “I’ve always said it was homophobic from the very beginning. There was an indifference. If Anthony had been a 23-year-old girl found dead in the street, and then the next one and the next one in close proximity, there would have been a lot more investigation and a lot more outcry.”
Port is currently serving a whole-life sentence for his crimes, meaning he will die behind bars.
Four Lives continues tonight (4 January) on BBC One and concludes on 5 January.