Stephen Port victim Jack Taylor’s family speak after the court case into the serial killer in 2016. The inquests into his victims start today. Credit: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images
Scotland Yard has issued an apology to the serial killer Stephen Port’s victims’ families, as inquests open today into their deaths.
Port - known as the Grindr murderer - met his victims on gay and bisexual dating apps, and lured them to his flat where he drugged and raped them.
He gave them lethal doses of the date rape drug GHB, and dumped their bodies near his home in Barking, east London.
Police however failed to link the deaths - between June 2014 and September 2015 - and initially thought the first three murders were non-suspicious.
In 2016, Port was jailed for life for murdering Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor.
Today, the long-awaited inquests into their deaths will start at Barking Town Hall, just metres away from where their bodies were found.
In advance, Scotland Yard issued another apology to the victims’ families over how the police handled the investigation at the start.
Commander Jon Savell said: “Our thoughts are firstly with the family and friends of those murdered by Stephen Port.
“We know this will be a painful and difficult time for them, hearing details once more of what happened to their loved ones.
“We are offering every assistance to the coroner and welcome a full examination of all the facts surrounding the tragic deaths of these four young men.
“At the time of Port’s conviction, we apologised to the victims’ families and Daniel Whitworth’s partner for how we initially responded to the deaths, and I would like to apologise again.”
Scotland Yard said it had worked hard since the murders to increase confidence the LGBT+ communities have in the police.
“Since Port’s offences came to light we have worked hard within the Met to improve both our processes and our wider knowledge across the organisation of a range of issues associated with the murders,” Commander Savell said.
“We will not prejudge the findings of the inquests but we will review any more improvements the jury and coroner identify that we need to make.
“It is extremely important to us that members of the LGBT+ communities trust the police and feel confident they are being provided with the best possible service.
“We welcome the help and support of our independent advisors and a whole range of community partners to help us achieve this.”
Scotland Yard said it had been assisting the coroner to prepare for the inquest.
A jury was sworn in on Friday, and the inquest is expected to last for eight to 10 weeks.
The families’ lawyer Neil Hudgell said: “Their families have felt every single day of their absence.
“They have waited with great patience and conducted themselves with real dignity.
“Yet, they’ve always wondered about whether there would have been a different outcome if the police had investigated Port properly and taken their concerns seriously, and if their boys hadn’t been gay.
“For them, the inquests mark a key step in their quest for accountability.”