With Stephen Port sentenced to lifetime in prison for the drugging, raping and murder of four gay man, questions are being raised about how London police could have let him go undetected for so long.
From June 2014 and September 2015, the 41-year-old chef lured at least four men he met on Grindr and other sites to his apartment, where he violated them before ending their lives.
Four times Port dragged a body less than 600 yards from his home, sometimes planting drugs or a fake suicide note to make it look like an overdose.
He was sentenced on Friday to life in prison with no hope for parole for the four deaths, as well as assaulting seven other men who survived.
Port actually called the police after murdering his first reported victim, 23-year-old Anthony Walgate. After dumping the body, Port told authorities he stumbled across it randomly.
Three more victims were found slumped in the same graveyard around the corner from Port’s home—two discovered by dog-walker Barbara Denham on separate occasions.
Pink News’ CEO Benjamin Cohen revealed he was contacted about one of the murders, but was told by police not to pursue the story.
“They told us there wasn’t a link between what was at that point three deaths,” Cohen told CNN.
“Essentially, they gave the indication it would be a bad idea for us to report anything as it would cause people to be fearful.”
LGBT activist Peter Tatchell claims police didn’t put much effort into the case because the victims were poor gay men.
“If four young middle class women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation.”
Criminologist David Wilson says police should have connected the dots a lot sooner.
“Stephen Port was not a transient serial killer. He killed in his flat, then dumped the bodies 300 meters away. They were all young men who died the same way. The idea that it wasn’t linked beggars belief.”
Wilson agreed the handling of the case had “a great deal to do with the persistence of homophobia generally and within the police.”
Metropolitan Police admit there may have been “missed opportunities to catch Port sooner”:
More than a dozen misconduct notices have been issued in connection with the investigation, and the deaths of other gay men are being reviewed to see if there are more victims.