Barking mad | 

How police missed obvious clues that allowed serial killer Stephen Port to murder again

In his new book, 'Easy Kills', author Sebastian Murphy-Bates details how police missed crucial clues for 15 months as to the identity of serial killer
Stephen Port

Stephen Port

Sebastian Murphy-Bates

Stephen Port was not a clever man.

In fact, he was pretty dim. Imagine the surprise, then, of watching journalists when this mumbling moron was revealed to be not just a serial killer but one who had evaded police for 15 months.

Perhaps this incredibly childish 40-year-old, who could barely string together a sentence, had an unexpected talent for covering up his crimes?

No, he dumped the bodies in public.

Perhaps he chose a range of diverse victims, obscuring any motive?

No, each of the four victims was a gay man aged in their twenties.

Did he at least leave the corpses of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor in widespread locations, so as opposed to a pattern?

Not even close, each was dumped within 400 yards of his flat - Anthony right outside, the other three lads in the same churchyard down the road in Barking, East London. Despite these clearly discernible patterns, Port got away with murder four times.

After each death, incredibly brave and astute family members and friends pierced through their grief to ask important questions.

In the case of Anthony: Is it not the least bit suspicious that a man - Port - who lied about finding the body had also hired him as an escort before his drug overdose?

In the case of Gabriel: Was it not strange that he simply vanished from the flat in which he had been staying - Port's - to turn up overdosed down the road?

After Daniel's death: Who was the man who had supposedly been exonerated by a 'suicide note' preserved in a plastic wallet found in the young chef's hand?

The reader won't be surprised to learn that the mystery man the note was keen to exonerate would later turn out to be Port, who had in fact penned the letter himself.

At this stage in the murders, he was on the radar of Barking and Dagenham Metropolitan Police Service and was being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice, having been found to have lied about the discovery of Anthony's body.

Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari were all killed by Stephen Port

Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari were all killed by Stephen Port

Despite this he was not a murder suspect. He admitted lying and served less than half of his sentence for perverting the course of justice. Had he served the full eight months, he would not have been free to murder Jack Taylor in September 2015.

After Jack's tragic death, his sisters Donna and Jen told police that he didn't take drugs, let alone take enough to overdose in a churchyard. They pressed officers further when CCTV footage emerged of Jack walking with a strange man in his final hours.

But the same police who had explicitly told journalists that the previous deaths were "not suspicious" didn't seem keen on releasing the video to the public.

They were adamant that the man in the footage with Jack would remain a mystery and that Jack had parted ways with him at the outskirts of Barking town centre before heading to the churchyard.

After much wrangling, the police released the footage to the media. And within hours the mystery man was identified as Stephen Port, whose flat Jack had headed to despite the conviction that he'd headed off in another direction.

These facts would be terrifying enough and make even the most pro-police of journalists take seriously allegations that homophobia had allowed officers to dismiss the deaths of these bright, promising individuals.

But when Port got his day in court, he stood accused of 29 charges ranging from drugging to rapes and murder.

He is, after much fighting, now behind bars for the rest of his life for his twisted crimes. As his balding head descended into the bowels of London's Old Bailey, attention turned to police officers who'd refused to investigated.

More than five years after Port's sentencing, not one police officer has been sacked. The relatives of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack continue to fight for justice in the form of a public inquiry into the impotence of Barking and Dagenham officers.

Their admirable battle comes after the Met's failure to discipline a single officer over the case.

This is in spite of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct exposing myriad failings.

If this supposedly elite institution of crime detection can screw up such a palpably solvable case, then others can too.

The eyes of Ireland, as well as the UK, should be attuned to the fact that things can go so horribly wrong at the highest level.

'Easy Kills: The inside story behind the murders of serial killer Stephen Port' by Sebastian Murphy-Bates is available in bookstores now.

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