Four Lives, a three-part BBC1 series, shines a light on the investigation surrounding London’s dating app serial killer, (also known as the “Grindr killer”) through dramatic reenactments. Rather than focusing on the murderer, Stephen Port, the series puts the victims at the heart of the story and offers up a damning indictment of the Metropolitan Police’s mismanagement of the investigation.
Port committed the first murder in June 2014. 23-year-old Anthony Walgate, a student and aspiring fashion designer, received a message from Port offering him £800 to meet up. Walgate was found dead outside Port’s apartment in the early hours of the morning, having overdosed on the date rape drug GHB. Port had made the ambulance call, claiming to have come across the body on his way home. Although the police discovered that Port had actually hired Walgate as an escort, they decided not to investigate the death as murder.
22-year-old Gabriel Kovari had just moved to London from Slovakia after finishing university. While he looked for work as a translator, he found a room with a new friend, John Pape. Six weeks later, Kovari was found in a church graveyard, succumbing to the same overdose that had killed Walgate two months earlier. Police concluded that the circumstances of his death were not suspicious.
21-year-old Daniel Whitworth was a chef and lived with his partner Ricky Waumsley. He was found a month after Kovari in the same church. On his person was a suicide note taking credit for Kovari’s death. The note also stated, “Please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex and then I left, he knows nothing of what I have done,” apparently a reference to Port whom the police were not investigating anyway. The police also chose to believe the suicide note, taking no finger prints, DNA or handwriting samples.
25-year-old Jack Taylor aspired to become a police officer and was regularly drug-tested for his job as a forklifter. Despite this, the police found nothing suspicious in both his overdose death to GHB or the fact that he was found in the same church as Kovari and Whitworth.
Taylor’s sisters launched their own investigation and managed to connect Port to all four murders. Though they passed this information to the police, they were ignored. Port was finally caught when a CCTV image linked him to Taylor, and he was arrested in 2015. In addition to the murder charges, seven charges of rape were made against him. He is currently serving a life sentence.
The victims family and friends hope that the new series will increase awareness of the Metropolitan Police’s homophobia and incompetence. John Pape told PinkNews, “I just want more people to know about [the investigation]. Because it’s a danger to all communities, an incompetent police force.”
The mother of Anthony Walgate spoke to The Sun about how the show has helped her cope. “I had nightmares afterwards, wondering: ‘Could I have done anything else?’ And I finally realized I couldn’t have, because it didn’t matter what I did or what I said – they just wouldn’t investigate, and they just didn’t care. He literally got away with murder for so long.
“This inquest and this drama has taken a great big lump out of my chest,” she went on. “Thankfully, I don’t have the nightmares now.”
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