Jakub Svec portrays Gabriel Kovari in Four Lives BBC/ITV Studios/Ben Blackall
Port’s next victim was Slovakian national Gabriel Kovari, 22, who was found dead in August 2014 by a local dog walker in St Margaret’s Churchyard, where he had been propped up against a wall.
Again, the cause of death had been a fatal overdose of GHB, but no connection was made between himself and Anthony, despite their bodies being discovered in close proximity – and in the vicinity of Port’s flat.
The death was considered unexplained, but not suspicious, with Gabriel’s friend John Pape accusing the Met Police of “institutionalised homophobia”, after his efforts to provide information that might link the incidents went ignored.
The Met Police denies this claim, and homophobia was not an issue for consideration by the jury at the later inquest.
Gabriel was relatively new to London and had been staying with Port, who he’d met online, as a temporary solution before finding a more stable home.
Police failed to follow up on a message Gabriel had sent to a friend explaining that he was living at Port’s address, while the Kovari family’s designated liaison officer admitted in an inquest that she had never contacted them.
The murder of Daniel Whitworth
Leo Flanagan portrays Daniel Whitworth and Robert Emms portrays Ricky Waumsley in Four Lives BBC/ITV Studios/Aimee Spinks
A mere three weeks later, Port’s third victim Daniel Whitworth, 21, was found in the same Churchyard by the very same dog walker, having also died from a fatal overdose of GHB.
Again, his death was not ruled suspicious, as his body was found with a fake suicide note – penned by Port – claiming that Daniel had accidentally caused Gabriel’s death and taken his own life out of guilt.
Of course, this was a complete falsehood made up by Port, but the forgery was not discovered until later as the handwriting on the note was not verified through proper procedure.
More missed evidence raised during the inquest includes forensic tests that were not carried out on the bedsheet that Daniel was found in and phone data proving that he was not in Barking on the night of Gabriel’s death.
Daniel’s stepmother Mandy and father Adam have heavily criticised the investigation, while his long-term partner Ricky Waumsley claimed he was “pushed out” and “dismissed” by detectives on the case.
The murder of Jack Taylor
Jaime Winstone as Donna, Paddy Rowan as Jack, and Stephanie Hyam as Jenny in Four Lives
Port took the life of his fourth and final victim in September 2015, shortly after serving three months of an eight-month sentence for perverting the course of justice.
Jack Taylor, 25, was also found in the vicinity of St Margaret’s Churchyard, having also died from a drug overdose, yet his death too was initially declared non-suspicious.
The inspector who led the investigation later said that neither of the two detectives who attended the crime scene with him had informed him of the similarities between Jack’s death and those of three other young men in the area.
Jack’s family insisted that his death was not an overdose as he was an aspiring police officer and firmly anti-drugs, with sisters Donna and Jenny providing authorities with information that linked the four deaths, but claiming it was not taken seriously.
How was murderer Stephen Port caught?
Stephen Merchant as Stephen Port in Four Lives BBC/ITV Studios/Britbox
Ten days after Jack was found dead, a parks officer who had no prior experience with investigatory work visited the family to look into their concerns.
Eventually, he found CCTV footage from Barking train station that showed Jack with a man later identified as Port, who was arrested on suspicion of causing all four deaths in October 2015.
Following an inquest that ruled that failings by the Met Police “probably” contributed to the deaths of Port’s final three victims, Assistant Commissioner Helen Ball made a formal apology.
“An inquest jury has determined that Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor were unlawfully killed,” she began.
“They have also found that the deaths of three of those young men – Gabriel, Daniel and Jack – could probably have been prevented had the initial police responses and investigations been better.
“It is a devastating finding,” Ball continued. “Our thoughts are with everybody who loved these young men. We are so sorry for their loss and we’re also deeply sorry that there were failings in the police investigations and the responses to their murders.”
She added: “I give my own, and the Met’s, heartfelt apologies. All those who loved Anthony and Gabriel and Daniel and Jack expected a thorough and professional police investigation into their deaths, and it’s a great sadness for me and for everybody at the Met that this didn’t happen.”
Four Lives premiered on BBC One at 9pm on Monday 3rd January 2022 with all episodes now available as a box set on BBC iPlayer.
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