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Police failed to flag up ‘significant’ incident involving 'Grindr killer' Stephen Port

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Detectives who interviewed Stephen Port after the murder of his first victim failed to flag up an earlier significant incident, an inquest has heard.

Following the murder of Anthony Walgate in June 2014, the so called 'Grindr-killer' would go on to kill 21-year-old Daniel Whitworth from Gravesend, as well as Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Jack Taylor, 25, during a 16-month period between June 2014 and September 2015.

Stephen Port, who murdered four people
Stephen Port, who murdered four people

Inquests into their deaths are now being held at Barking Town Hall, to find out whether lives could have been saved had police acted differently.

Yesterday the inquest heard how Port had given a series of differing accounts to detectives when interviewed in the days after his first victim's death on the night of June 17, 2014.

In the second of the interviews, he was questioned by Detective Constables Jolyon Holt and Judith Levoir on June 27 about what happened on the night.

Port’s account was that he had arranged to meet Mr Walgate, who would occasionally work as an escort, for an overnight stay at his flat in Barking for £800.

He claimed that Mr Walgate had taken drugs and become ill, causing Port to panic and move his body outside the building because otherwise “it would look suspicious just like last time”.

Daniel Whitworth from Gravesend was among Stephen Port's victims. Image from SWNS
Daniel Whitworth from Gravesend was among Stephen Port's victims. Image from SWNS

When pushed about what he meant, the detectives were expecting him to outline details of an earlier allegation from 2012 that he had drugged and raped a man on New Year’s Eve.

But instead Port told them he had been “helping” a friend who had become unwell at Barking station and was going through his bag looking for his phone to get assistance when he had been stopped by police officers.

Jurors have already been told that DCI Chris Jones from the Metropolitan Police specialist homicide command would have taken over the investigation into Mr Walgate’s death had he known about the incident at Barking station.

Counsel to the inquest Andrew O’Connor told Ms Levoir “the significance of this incident must have been obvious”.

Giving evidence on Monday, she told the jury: “It was just another line of inquiry that needed looking into in respect of what he’d said in interview.”

The former home of serial killer Stephen Port in Cooke Street, Barking, east London. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA
The former home of serial killer Stephen Port in Cooke Street, Barking, east London. Photo: Nick Ansell/PA

The inquest heard that she did not check the police database for details of the incident or ask another officer to do so despite realising that it was significant.

She put crosses next to her handwritten notes about the incident that were passed on to senior officers, but did not take further action to draw their attention to it, the court heard.

The initial investigation into Mr Walgate’s death led only to Port being charged with perverting the course of justice.

He went on to murder three more men in the same way, with fatal overdoses of the drug GHB – two in 2014 while he was on bail for perverting the course of justice, and the fourth after he had served three months in prison for the offence.

Port is now serving a whole life jail term for the four murders and a string of rapes and sexual assaults on other men who survived.

Former Dartford Grammar student Daniel Whitworth was killed by Port in 2014 after they met via the gay dating app Grindr.

Earlier in the hearing, Daniel's family paid tribute to their "pride and joy" and spoke of their pain over his death being treated as suicide.

After leaving school, Daniel attended Denton College in Gravesend, where he trained to become a chef.

For more information on how we can report on inquests, click here.

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