The so-called “Grindr killer” Stephen Port has been found guilty of murdering four men.
Initially, he was found guilty of murdering three men, but now an updated verdict has him being guilty of the murder of a fourth man. He has now been found guilty of the murder of Anthony Walgate, alongside the murders of Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor.
As well as the murder charges, Port was found guilty of three sexual assaults and seven offences of administering a substance with intent. In total, Port pleaded not guilty to 29 charges including murder, rape, sexual assault and drugging.
Jurors in the case are still yet to reach a verdict on some of these charges.
For the murders, however, the court heard that the men were poisoned with lethal doses of the date-rape drug GHB. Apparently, Port poisoned the men with the drug and had sex with them while they unconscious.
The verdicts so far are in spite of Port’s efforts to confuse authorities. The courts heard how he planted GHB bottles and fake suicide notes on the bodies in an attempt to direct the investigation away from him.
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said that “cruel and maniplative” Port placed a note on the body of Daniel Whitworth, in an attempt to pin the death of Gabriel Kovari on him.
“The note was written to give the impression that Daniel Whitworth had deliberately taken an overdose of G, together with sleeping pills, to kill himself because he blamed himself for giving a fatal dose to Gabriel Kovari. The police at that stage accepted the apparent suicide note at face value and did not investigate further.”
“The prosecution say it is a case about a man – the defendant – who in the pursuit of nothing more than his own sexual gratification, variously drugged, sexually assaulted, and in four cases killed, young gay men he had invited back to his flat. We say all of the offending behaviour was driven by one main factor, namely the defendant’s appetite for having sexual intercourse with younger, gay males while they were unconscious through drugs.”
A senior figure at the London Metropolitan police has admitted that their officers “potentially missed opportunities” to catch the serial killer.
He said: “I’ve got 28 years experience in the police force, much of which has been spent investigating homocide and serious crime, but I think Stephen Port is one of the most dangerous individuals I have encountered. He’s a voracious sexual predator.”
“He is obsessed with surrepticiously drugging young, often vulnerable, men for sexual purposes and rape. From what we’ve seen, this is a highly devious and manipulative individual. Throughout the investigation and during the course of the trial, he’s never once shown any shred of remorse for his victims or their families.”
Prior to all this, the police did not link the deaths of the men together, despite efforts from the LGBT press and the community who were able to make that link. Following Port’s arrest, the Met referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Commission over their handling of the case.
Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations Command, had this to say: “The IPCC investigation is ongoing and I can’t pre-empt its findings but the evidence heard at the trial did identify potentially missed opportunities to catch Port sooner,” commented Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations command, in a statement.”
“If the IPCC inquiry highlights further areas of learning for the Met where we could have acted better we will be course take those lessons on board and respond accordingly. If the investigation finds evidence of potential misconduct against any officer that will also be carefully considered.”
At the moment, seven officers have been served with gross misconduct notices while another 10 have been served with misconduct notices.
IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said: “It is important we establish whether the police response to the deaths of all four men was thorough and appropriate in the circumstances, including whether discrimination played any part in actions and decisions. As his trial established, Port was known to the police in connection to the death of Mr Walgate. We now know that tragically, three more young men went on to lose their lives.”
While it seems that Port will be brought to justice for his crimes, it is still deeply troubling that the police failed to make connections that were glaring obvious to many others, directly leading to the deaths of three other men.