Connect with us

News

Delayed inquests into deaths of Stephen Port’s victims open

inquests

Delayed inquests into deaths of Stephen Port’s victims open

The delayed inquests into the deaths of four young men who were victims of the serial killer Stephen Port open on Tuesday, as the lawyer for their families said the hearings marked a key step in their “quest for accountability”.

Anthony Walgate, a 23-year-old fashion student from Hull, Gabriel Kovari, 22, originally from Slovakia, Daniel Whitworth, 21, a chef from Kent, and Jack Taylor, 25, a warehouse supervisor from Dagenham, east London, were killed between June 2014 and September 2015.

Port, now 46, was found guilty of their murders and sentenced to a whole-life order in November 2016 at the Old Bailey in London. His trial heard that the former chef drugged and raped the men before dumping their bodies near his flat in Barking, east London.

The inquests are being held at Barking town hall, just yards from where they were each given fatal overdoses of the date rape drug GHB by Port. Their families have campaigned for answers as to why Port was not stopped sooner.

Before Tuesday’s hearing, the families’ lawyer, Neil Hudgell, said: “It has been seven years and three months since Anthony Walgate was murdered; seven years and one month since Gabriel Kovari was murdered; just over seven years since Daniel Whitworth was murdered; and just over six years since Jack Taylor was murdered.

“Their families have felt every single day of their absence. They have waited with great patience and conducted themselves with real dignity. Yet they’ve always wondered about whether there would have been a different outcome if the police had investigated Port properly and taken their concerns seriously, and if their boys hadn’t been gay. For them, the inquests mark a key step in their quest for accountability.”

On Friday, Sarah Munro, assistant coroner for the east London area, told jurors to focus on the evidence in court as they were sworn in.

She said: “On Tuesday … we will commence hearing inquests into the deaths of four young men who were murdered by a man called Stephen Port in 2014 and 2015. They were killed by him with overdoses of a date rape drug called GHB and their bodies were discarded by him yards from where we are sitting now.”

The inquests, which were postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, are expected to last between eight and 10 weeks.

Sentencing Port in 2016, Mr Justice Openshaw said: “The murders were committed as part of a persistent course of conduct of the defendant.”

The Metropolitan police said it was offering every support to the families, and had been assisting the coroner for some months in providing all statements and information required to aid the jury “in thoroughly examining what happened.”

In a statement, Commander Jon Savell, head of profession for investigations at the force, said: “At the time of Port’s conviction, we apologised to the victims’ families and Daniel Whitworth’s partner for how we initially responded to the deaths, and I would like to apologise again.

“It is extremely important to us that members of the LGBT+ communities trust the police and feel confident they are being provided with the best possible service. We welcome the help and support of our independent advisors and a whole range of community partners to help us achieve this.”

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

5 × 5 =

News

Supreme Court Dismisses Suit Challenging Adeleke’s Candidacy

The Supreme Court has affirmed Ademola Adeleke as the authentic candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in the just concluded Osun State Governorship Election.

This has laid to rest the suit filed by Dotun Babayemi, a governorship aspirant of the party who sought the invalidation of Adeleke’s victory.

In a judgement delivered by Justice Amina Augie, the five-member panel held that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit after counsel for the appellant, Adebayo Adelodun, withdrew the earlier notice of appeal that was filed within time.

At the resumed hearing, Adelodun, who represented the appellant and Babayemi informed the court that he sought to withdraw the earlier notice of appeal to replace it with the fresh application he filed.

But the panel held that Section 285(11) of the constitution stipulated that an appeal on a pre-election matter must be filed within 14 days from the day of the decision, and that having filed the second appeal out of time, the apex court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

Justice Augie, therefore, dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

Babayemi had asked the court to invalidate the primary election that produced the governor-elect, citing non-compliance with a court order.

Continue Reading

News

400 Staff To Lose Jobs As BBC Goes Digital

The British Broadcasting Corporation BBC world service has on Thursday disclosed that about 400 of its staff will lose their jobs as part of a cost-cutting programme and move to digital platforms,

The BBC said its international services needed to make savings of £28.5 million ($31 million) as part of wider reductions of £500 million.

In July it detailed plans to merge BBC World News television and its domestic UK equivalent into a single channel to launch in April next year.

BBC World Service currently operates in 40 languages around the world with a weekly audience of some 364 million people.

But the corporation said audience habits were changing and more people were accessing news online, which along with a freeze on BBC funding and increased operating costs meant a move to “digital-first” made financial sense.

BBC World Service director Liliane Landor said there was a “compelling case” for expanding digital services, as audiences had more than doubled since 2018.

“The way audiences are accessing news and content is changing and the challenge of reaching and engaging people around the world with quality, trusted journalism is growing,” she added.

 

Continue Reading

Environment

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian: Cities flooded and power cut as storm crosses Florida

Hurricane Ian made landfall at around 15:10 local time (19:10 GMT) on Wednesday, smashing into the coast with wind speeds of up to 241km/h (150mph).

Dramatic scenes saw a hospital roof blown off, cars submerged and trees ripped out of the ground.

The category four hurricane was later downgraded to a tropical storm.

However, Floridians were warned that the most dangerous 24 hours lay ahead and the mayor of Tampa urged people to shelter in place through the night into Thursday morning.

“We are going to get the majority of the rain and the higher winds starting about 20:00, and they are going to last throughout the night,” Jane Castor said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

In a message posted on Facebook, the Weather Prediction Center told residents in the Central Florida Peninsula to expect “widespread life-threatening, catastrophic flash and urban flooding” continuing into Friday morning, with potentially up to 76cm (30ins) of rain falling locally.

Residents were ordered to leave their homes, but many have decided to remain and seek shelter indoors.

Mark Pritchett, who lives in the city of Venice, some 95km (60 miles) south of Tampa, described the “terrifying” moment he stepped outside his home as the hurricane made its way across the Gulf of Mexico.

“Rain shooting like needles. My street is a river,” he said in a text message to the Associated Press news agency.

In Lee County – the south-west region where Ian made landfall – police were prevented from responding to reports of looting at a petrol station because of the storm damage.

As a result, a curfew has been declared “until further notice”.

Lee County Manager Roger Desjarlais said that the Fort Myers community had “been – to some extent – decimated”. According to news agency AFP, some neighbourhoods in the city of 80,000 had been left resembling lakes.

State Governor Ron DeSantis described Ian as the “biggest flood event” south-west Florida had ever seen, and announced that 7,000 National Guard troops are ready to lead rescue operations in flood zones.

President Joe Biden will receive a briefing on Thursday from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Ian is now continuing to move north through Florida. Jacksonville International Airport, based in north-east Florida, cancelled all flights scheduled for Thursday.

The storm is forecast to emerge into the Atlantic by Thursday morning.

It is expected to reach Georgia and South Carolina on Friday. Virginia has also joined Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida by declaring a state of emergency.

Cuba’s western coast was hit by Hurricane Ian on Tuesday. Power has now been restored in some areas after the island was plunged into a total blackout. Two people are understood to have been killed in Cuba and more than 20 Cuban migrants are believed to be missing at sea.

Predicted path of Hurricane Ian. Updated 27 September

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending