Watchdog re-investigates the case of a failed investigation of a serial killer

A police watchdog must reinvestigate the Metropolitan Police over their original investigation into the murders of four young men by serial killer Stephen Port.

The Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) said there was evidence that its initial investigation into officers’ behavior was “materially flawed” and that “new information” emerged from the investigation into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth. and Jack Taylor held last year.

The investigation concluded that police errors “probably” contributed to the deaths of the last three victims, all of whom were killed illegally.

None of the 17 officers who participated in the original IOPC investigation, which ran prior to the investigation, received disciplinary action, although 16 of them gave interviews without comment.

Families of the victims said Thursday’s IOPC statement was “the only logical decision open to the IOPC after the plethora of evidence heard at the inquest” and blamed police for “blood on their hands” after Port’s killing spree was just halted. after the fourth murder.

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Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate and Gabriel Kovari were killed within 16 months by Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/Pennsylvania).

The Metropolitan Police said it would provide “full support” to the new investigation.

IOPC Regional Director Graham Beesley said: “After the investigation was completed, the IOPC team carefully reviewed the original investigation material and compared it with information and oral reports provided in new investigations.

“The matter can only be re-investigated by the IOPC if we are satisfied that the original investigation had significant deficiencies that affected subsequent decisions made regarding discipline, performance and/or referral to the Crown Prosecution Service and/or there is “important new information that requires further study.

“In this case, the reinvestigation process has identified evidence that fits both material new information and categories of significant shortcomings, and we believe that a proportionate, but thorough, new investigation is in the public interest.”

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Families of Stephen Port’s victims at Barking Town Hall after an investigating jury found that police inaction in the killing of Anthony Walgate “probably” contributed to the deaths of other men (Stefan Russo/Pennsylvania)

He said the decision to reinvestigate “does not necessarily mean that the entire original investigation will be reviewed again.”

The investigating jury found that officers at Barking missed repeated opportunities to catch Port after he drugged his first victim, Mr. Walgate, with a lethal dose of the date rape drug GHB and dumped his body.

Port landed three more hits before he was finally caught, killing each victim under nearly identical circumstances, with the police unable to connect him to the death despite detective work done by the families and friends of the victims that led them to the perpetrator.

The officers dismissed accusations of prejudice and homophobia, instead blaming a lack of staff and resources, and some were capricious in leadership positions.

Attorney Neil Hudgell, speaking on behalf of the families of the victims, said the initial IOPC report was “hampered by a wall of silence” given that nearly all of the officers interviewed gave “no comment” interviews.

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Locations where Stephen Port dumped bodies during his 16-month killing spree (Metropolitan Police/Pennsylvania)

He said: “Now we hope the IOPC still has a lot to do.

“The big question remains whether police bias played a role in the investigation.”

He added: “The Metropolitan Police’s inadequate investigation into the four deaths is one of the most widespread institutional failures in modern history, exacerbated by the lamentable lack of remorse, regret or empathy shown during the inquest by some of the officers involved.

“The port was sentenced to life imprisonment, but the police also have blood on their hands. It’s time to hold them accountable.”

Port, now 47, a former bus depot chef, will die in prison after being sentenced to life in the Old Bailey for murders in 2014 and 2015 and a string of sexual assaults.

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The site near Stephen Port’s former apartment on Cook Street, Barking where the body of his first victim, fashion student Anthony Walgate (Emily Pennink/PA) was found

Nine of the 17 officers examined by the IOPC in 2018 were found to have performance deficiencies.

But none of the nine were punished or lost their jobs, and some have since been promoted.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball said: “The death of these four young people is a tragedy and we deeply regret that our police made mistakes. Once again, I offer my sincere apologies and the apologies of the Met.

“The entire Met is committed to improving our investigations, our relationships and people’s trust in us to keep them safe.

“HM Inspectorate of Police and Fire and Rescue is with us now, reviewing how we are responding to the death and investigating it. We look forward to their findings and any advice they may have.

“If the IOPC reinvestigation yields further recommendations for improvement, we will of course take them very seriously, in addition to any questions of misconduct that may arise.”