Stephen Port: Police apologize for ‘terrible mistakes’ in investigation of serial killer Grindr
A senior detective has apologized to the families of the victims of serial killer Stephen Port, saying he made a number of “terrible” mistakes while investigating the rapes and murders.
Port, 46, of Dagenham, is serving a life sentence after being convicted in 2016 of raping and killing at least four men he had met through gay and bisexual social media and dating apps, such as Grindr.
During an investigation, Detective Sergeant Martin O’Donnell told jurors he regretted not informing his colleagues that, two years before his first known murder, Port was accused of drugging a young man with of GHB before raping it.
The investigation found that Port was originally arrested on suspicion of raping a man in December 2012, but the case was closed when the alleged victim withdrew her statement, although she later did the same. allegations.
Jurors are asked to assess whether the lives of the victims could have been saved if the police had acted differently.
Mr. O’Donnell was the officer in charge of advancing the Port’s crime investigation for the first seven months.
But it emerged that he had not recorded the rape allegations in the Crime Reporting Information System, which records the progress of an investigation so that his colleagues can see them.
Mr O’Donnell told the Barking Town Hall hearing: “It sounds like a pretty big mistake on my part not to include it in this document. It’s a terrible mistake that I didn’t put it in there.
He said he did not order a search of the national police database on Port. A search reportedly found UK Transport Police records showing officers saw Port at Barking Station, a short walk from his apartment, with a drug addict.
This incident took place the same month Port drugged and killed Anthony Walgate, 23, with lethal doses of GHB in June 2014.
Mr. O’Donnell said he failed to have Port’s laptop checked quickly and properly. A computer scan, which took place over a year after Mr Walgate’s murder, found that Port had searched for drug rape pornography while making arrangements to meet with him.
Mr O’Donnell said: “I can only deeply apologize to the families for not being able to do this (laptop research) to the standard they expected.
“It was there on his laptop and we should have had it – we should have had it.”
He denied the accusation by Mr Walgate’s friend, Kiera Brennan, that the police “wrote to him [Mr Walgate] off ”because he was a sex worker.
The inquest had previously learned that Port had repeatedly changed his story about Mr Walgate’s death – first telling emergency services that he found the student slumped at the entrance to his building on June 19, 2014, to later admit that he had made an appointment with Mr Walgate for sex.
Andrew O’Connor QC, lawyer for the investigation, said: “Stephen Port lied to the police about his relationship with Anthony, there were suspicions his death was caused by drugs, and you have a story detailed that he (Port) imposed drugs on her. (the rape complainant) on more than one occasion.
Mr O’Donnell replied: “Yes, you are absolutely right, it should have been on this report.”
The detective’s testimony echoed testimony from other officers that his team had been overworked, saying there was “enormous pressure in the office at the time” and that it was “easy to miss. things”.
His colleagues, Detective Constable Nainesh Desai and Detective Constable David Parish, had previously told the inquest that they had made mistakes about the deaths.
Mr Desai said he had failed to make a connection between the first two deaths – although the two victims were young gay men, found a short distance from the Port apartment, and who fell apart. later revealed to have been drugged – while Mr. Parish did not send Port’s laptop for analysis in the days after he first knocked.
Port was sentenced to eight months in prison in March 2015 for lying about Mr Walgate’s death, but was not released until a few months later. While released with an electronic tag, he killed for the fourth time before being caught.
The other three victims were Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25. Their bodies were found in the cemetery of Sainte-Marguerite d’Antioche church in Barking between June 2014 and September 2015.
Two of the bodies were found by the same woman on different occasions while she was walking her dog.
Port had attempted to accuse one of his murder victims, placing a fake suicide note next to Whitworth’s body to suggest he was responsible for Kovari’s death and that he had committed suicide out of guilt .
Port was convicted at the Old Bailey in 2016 of the four murders and sentenced to life imprisonment, meaning he will never be released.
The investigation is continuing.
Additional reports by PA