The families of four men murdered by Grindr killer Stephen Port after basic police failures say officers have blood on their hands and must “put things right”.
Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and 25-year-old Jack Taylor were killed in Barking, east London, between June 2014 and September 2015.
Their deaths were not treated as suspicious until after the fourth victim had been killed – despite two of the bodies being found in exactly the same spot, three weeks apart.
Now police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has announced it will reopen an investigation into the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the case.
Jack Taylor’s sisters told Sky News the wait for justice is agonising.
“It makes you more angry as time goes on,” Donna Taylor said.
“Had the IOPC done what was expected of them the first time we wouldn’t have to be here doing this again.”
“We feel that the police let us down, they’ve let Jack down, they’ve let the other boys down.”
Police believed Mr Taylor had died from a drug overdose and treated his death as “non-suspicious”.
But two other men were discovered in the same graveyard where Jack’s body was found.
Port, dubbed the ‘Grindr killer’ after scouting his victims on the gay dating app, is currently serving a whole-life term in jail.
But the families believe the police should shoulder responsibility for failings.
‘It’s time for police to be held accountable’
A statement released by the families’ solicitor Neil Hudgell of Hudgell Solicitors said: “The inquests identified fundamental failings and basic errors in the investigation into Anthony’s death which meant that Port was free to go on to kill Gabriel, Daniel and Jack.
“Port was jailed for life, but the police have blood on their hands too.
“It is time for them to be held accountable.”
Jack’s sister, Jenny, told Sky News: “Seven years on, we shouldn’t still be fighting.
“We should still have Jack here but we don’t, so we’ve got to put everything that we possibly can into getting justice.”
The Metropolitan Police said it will offer every support to the IOPC reinvestigation.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Helen Ball said: “The deaths of these four young men is a tragedy and we are deeply sorry there were failings in our police response. Again, I give my own and the Met’s heartfelt apologies.
“Since the deaths of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack we have worked hard to ensure the service we provide is better while understanding we have more to do.
“Learning and recommendations from the Independent Office for Police Conduct, Her Majesty’s Coroner and our LGBT+ Independent Advisory Group of community members have enabled us to make a range of improvements.”
‘Apologies are not enough’
But Jenny Taylor says apologies are not enough.
“We don’t have Jack anymore and nothing is going to change that ever. We’re going to be devastated for the rest of our lives. Mum and Dad are always going to be distraught. So an apology isn’t good enough,” she said.
“All we’ve got left with him is standing at a head stone and laying flowers.”
Donna added: “Jack was really kind and funny. He cared about everybody, he was the life and soul of everything.
“He was our baby brother but he was like our big brother because he looked after us.”
“The police officers that could’ve and should’ve saved Jack and the other boys shouldn’t be in the position they are because they work for a police force that are supposed to protect the public. How can they protect the public when clearly their mindset was that they didn’t care enough, they didn’t do basic policing.”
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Both sisters said their faith in the police had diminished.
“To learn from it they have to make an example of people to move forward. So an apology without that doesn’t mean anything,” Donna said.
“Nobody tried to make a difference, nobody said actually this is wrong, this shouldn’t have happened. And this has to be put right.
“No, it doesn’t mean that we’re going to get Jack back but put it right, stand up and own it.”