Stephen Port inquests: Police officer ‘does not recall’ family alerting him to other dead bodies

Sgt Matt Laffan denied Jack Taylor’s sister Donna’s evidence that she alerted police to news articles about other bodies being found.

A police officer investigating serial killer Stephen Port’s final victim said he “had no recollection” of the man’s family raising fears over other bodies found in the same spot.

Jurors are hearing evidence during an inquest into the death of Jack Taylor, 25, who was found dead in a Barking churchyard in 2015, following a fatal dose of date rape drug GHB.

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Three victims, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Mr Taylor were all dumped in the exact same spot in the churchyard.

Speaking at the inquest on Wednesday, November 17, Sgt Matt Laffan denied Jack’s sister Donna’s evidence that she raised fears about the other bodies being found, after reading articles in the Barking and Dagenham Post.

Sgt Laffan said he met with Ms Taylor on September 25 but said: “I don’t recall it being brought to my attention at that point, no.”

He later added: “I don’t have a recollection of it being brought forward.”

Mr Taylor, a forklift truck driver from Dagenham, was found dead after the bodies of Mr Kovari, 22, and Mr Whitworth, 21, were found in the same spot in August and September 2014, and Anthony Walgate, 23, was found dead in June 2014 on a street nearby in Barking.

Serial killer Stephen Port, now 46, was later found guilty of all four murders and given a whole life order in 2016, after a jury concluded he murdered the men, after luring them to his flat via hookup apps.

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

When asked about the news articles Ms Taylor told the inquest she had alerted the police to, Sgt Laffan told the inquest: “Of all the things the family brought to the investigation that would have been significant and I would have gone back and put it straight on the table.

“I have no recollection. That would have gone straight to the top. It would have been extremely important.. [due to] the similarities between the four bodies.”

Sgt Laffan said he spoke with Ms Taylor after he was asked to look into her brother’s death.

He told the inquest: “I asked her to tell me about Jack - his social life, his work life, his aspirations - to build up a picture about what I was dealing with.

“The family make-up, anything they could tell me about him, because I had no prior knowledge of Jack Taylor.”

The inquest heard Sgt Laffan was asked whether he actively investigated the case, and he said he did so after hearing the concerns Ms Taylor raised.

St Margaret of Antioch Church, Barking, where Stephen Port dumped the bodies of his final three victims. Credit: Katherine Da Silva/Shutterstock

He said: “She started to put forward things like ‘he would never have done drugs’ and ‘he would never have missed Sunday dinner’.

“I started to listen and realise there were concerns they had that I didn’t have answers for.

“It was something I decided I was going to take forward. I took that decision because Donna had put points forward that I couldn’t give answers to.”

Sgt Laffan said he also asked Ms Taylor whether her brother was right or left handed as “what could have been a needle mark had been found”.

He told the inquest: “The coroner’s report had identified what could have been a puncture mark in the crook of his arm.”

Inquiries were made with the national blood donor registry but Sgt Laffan said this was ruled out as Mr Taylor had most recently given blood several years prior.

Asked by a lawyer representing the Met Police whether he had been “dismissive” of Donna Taylor, Sgt Laffan replied: “I don’t think I was. I hope I wasn’t.”

The inquest heard Sgt Laffan asked whether he dismissed things Ms Taylor was saying, which he denied.

He told the inquest Jack’s family, Colin, Jeanette, Jenny and Donna had “useful information to bring to the investigation” and that he listened to what they had to say.

He said he shared their concerns about unexplained circumstances surrounding Jack’s death, including 35 hours in which he was unaccounted for between him last being seen alive and being found dead.

Peter Skelton QC, representing the Met, said: “Was your investigation trying to investigate that shared concern by finding out who Jack was meeting in Barking, why, and what happened during those 35 hours?”

Sgt Laffan told the inquest: “Yes, it was.”

Mr Skelton asked whether Jack’s death was investigated “with any less care and concern than you would have done in any other case”, to which Sgt Laffan replied: “Absolutely not.”

The Met lawyer quoted Anthony Walgate’s mother, who gave opinion evidence earlier in the inquest, and said police would have given more effort to investigating had the victims been women.

He asked Sgt Laffan: “As they were all young gay boys, they did nothing. Did you do nothing Sgt Laffan?”

Sgt Laffan told the inquest: “No.”

The hearing continues.