Stephen Port officer 'unaware' of similarities between deaths, inquests told

A police officer who declared the death of Stephen Port's fourth victim as non-suspicious said he was unaware of similarities between the deaths of three other young gay men in the area, an inquest jury has heard.

Inspector Jason O’Donohue, who was leading the investigation into the death of Jack Taylor, said that other than all three deaths "involving men" he wasn't aware of any similarities.

Giving evidence at Barking Town Hall, Mr O’Donohue said he was "absolutely flabbergasted" when he realised the location where 25-year-old Jack Taylor’s body was dumped was just seconds away from where Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth were found a year earlier.

Mr O’Donohue was acting up as duty inspector in Barking, east London, in September 2015 when Mr Taylor’s lifeless body was discovered in a church graveyard by a park warden, apparently from a drugs overdose.

He was joined at the scene by two detectives – Yinka Adeyemo-Phillips and Peter Sweetman – who had been involved in the Kovari and Whitworth investigations, but neither told Mr O’Donohue that the deaths all involved young men, found in close proximity, with drug paraphernalia present, and with their mobile phones missing, he said.

He said there had been no discussion between himself and the CID officers about the similarities between the deaths.

Mr O’Donohue then declared the death of the forklift driver as unexplained but non-suspicious.

Mr Taylor, from Dagenham, had been drugged and murdered by Port, like three others before him.

It was not until a month later that all four deaths became linked to Port when a police officer working on the investigation into his first victim, Anthony Walgate, chanced upon a CCTV still of Mr Taylor walking with Port in Barking the night before he died.

A CCTV still of Jack Taylor walking with Stephen Port to the killer's Barking flat the night before he died

Henrietta Hill QC, counsel for the victims’ families, said: “If you had been made aware of more information of similarities between Jack Taylor and the other two, your decision-making might have been different?

Mr O’Donohue replied: “It might have been.

“I wasn’t aware of any similarities other than all three deaths were involving men.”

He said he had no idea the bodies of Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth had been found so close to Mr Taylor’s until Port went on trial for murder.

“Not until I saw the court graphic for the trial,” he said.

“I was absolutely flabbergasted.”

Port, now 46, was handed a whole-life order in 2016 for the murders of Mr Walgate, 23, Mr Kovari, 22, Mr Whitworth, 21, and Mr Taylor between June 2014 and September 2015.

The inquests are examining whether lives could have been saved had police acted differently.