Police ‘blurted out’ news of Stephen Port victim’s death and gave families ‘wrong information’, inquest told

A top Metropolitan Police officer has given a ‘personal apology’ to Stephen Port victims’ ‘devastated’ families at an inquest into whether police made mistakes investigating their deaths

A senior police officer has apologised to the families of serial killer Stephen Port’s victims for the force failing to investigate the deaths “to the standard you rightly expected and deserve”.

The inquest also heard how the victims’ families were given the “wrong information” about their deaths by police and the news was “blurted out”.

Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were murdered by Port between June 2014 and September 2015, after being lured to their deaths via gay hook up apps such as Grindr.

Port was caged for life in 2016 after he was convicted of giving his victims lethal doses of the date rape drug GHB.

The victims’ families have told an inquest they were forced to do their own detective work into the deaths and that police “dismissed” evidence and refused to link their murders.

Serial Killer Stephen Port. Credit: Met Police

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Speaking at a second round of inquests into their deaths, which is seeking to establish whether the police made mistakes in their enquiries, a senior Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officer has offered his “sincere personal apologies” to the victims’ families and admitted the force made mistakes.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Cundy said: “I can’t imagine putting myself in any of your shoes.

“I am deeply sorry, personally and on behalf of the MPS, that we didn’t conduct the initial investigation to the standard that you rightly expected and deserved

“Please accept my sincere apologies.”

Stephen Port’s victims (L-R): Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor. Credit: Met Police

In a statement provided to the inquest, he said the murders “left their families and friends devastated by the loss of their loved ones in such awful circumstances”.

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He added: “Their families rightly expected professional and comprehensive police investigations into their deaths.”

DAC Cundy als apologised for the “wrong” and “unacceptable” way families were told about the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.

Anthony Walgate’s father was incorrectly told by police that his brother, not his son, had died, while Ricky Waumsley, the partner of Daniel Whitworth, was told he had been “found hanged”, and was then excluded as a family member by officers, the inquest heard.

Jack Taylor’s family, the inquest were told, “received a visit where a police constable walked into the house and blurted out that Jack was dead without even asking them to sit down”.

DAC Cundy said: “I would describe that as plain wrong.

“Delivering a death message is an important part of our training. The circumstances where the wrong information was given are not acceptable.”

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He told the inquest: “One of our core values is compassion. Policing is about human beings.

“We will encounter families at one of the most traumatic moments of their life. Police officers need to recognise that. Some will find it daunting and that is why we do training.

“It did not happen as it should have done for the Taylor family and I am very sorry for that.”

The inquest previously heard how Det Con Jacqueline Baxter, the designated liaison officer for the family of Gabriel Kovari, told the court she did not even contact them, and admitted she had “utterly failed” in her job, the BBC reported.

DAC Cundy also said Mr Waumsley should have been treated as family, and guidelines reflected London’s diversity, and family structures may not reflect traditional nuclear models.

The inquest heard the Met are involved with more than 7,000 deaths a year, mostly not suspicious, and that awareness had been raised about “constantly evolving good practice”.

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DAC Cundy said he had written to the victims’ families following the criminal trial.

He will give evidence to the inquest, held at Barking Town Hall, just metres from where the victims were given fatal overdoses, throughout the day (Friday, November 19) on how the investigations failed to stop Port from committing further crimes.

The inquest, which began in early October and is expected to last until mid-December, heard DAC Cundy’s evidence will include:

  • Issues with the quality and leadership of the inquiries.
  • Interactions between local police and specialist crime investigators.
  • Awareness of the use of GHB, chem sex and criminal activity.
  • Engagement with members of the LGBT+ community.
  • How the Met has changed since these investigations in terms of structure, resource and financing.

The inquest continues.