Stephen Port claimed the lives of four victims and drugged and abused eight other men during his reign of terror – and his neighbour even offered one victim a place to stay days before his untimely death, but never alerted the police
Serial killer Stephen Port was allowed to continue his harrowing murder spree due to shocking mistakes and missed opportunities by the police.
BBC drama Four Lives is currently telling the chilling story, with Stephen Merchant playing the vile ‘Grindr killer’ this week.
Port murdered Anthony Walgate, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, both fashion students, chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, and forklift driver Jack Taylor, 25.
He also sexually assaulted and drugged several other victims between 2012-2015.
A question many viewers will be asking while watching the BBC drama is, why did no one stop him?
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His neighbour, Ryan Edwards, admits he was concerned about Stephen’s behaviour. The housing association manager, 42, said he had known Port for more than 11 years, and branded him “creepy” and “odd”.
Edwards told the court Port had a “voracious appetite” for meeting “very young men”.
He told inquest jurors he struck up a friendship with Port as they were neighbours.
They had also both been members of Barking’s LGBT community, Edwards said.
He said their friendship was strictly platonic, and that Port would frequently invite him over to meet his new partner, something which occasionally gave Edwards cause for concern.
“My slight concern with Stephen Port was sometimes the guys he would introduce me to were very young – 16, 17 sometimes, very close to the age of consent,” he told the inquest jury.
“Often there were difficult circumstances, broken homes, needing somewhere to stay, vulnerable.
“I was wondering if he was bordering on paedophile tendencies, but I didn’t have any evidence.”
Edwards was also concerned about Port’s drug use, but the killer assured him that he only dated men who were of legal age, and claimed the drugs were for his own personal use only.
He also described how Port loved playing with Transformers toys, specifically the ones designed for children.
The court heard Port encouraged Edwards to come over and meet his “new flat mate” Gabriel Kovari – who would later tragically become Port’s second victim.
But the day after they met, Kovari told Edwards that Port was “not the person you think he is, he’s not a nice man”.
This prompted a worried Edwards to offer Kovari a safe place to stay at his home nearby, but the Slovakian never replied.
He was sadly found dead four days later on August 28, 2014, in a secluded corner of St Margaret’s Churchyard, near Port’s flat in Barking, east London.
Port lied to Edwards and claimed Kovari had simply moved out, later adding that he had moved to Spain.
But bizarrely, he then texted Edwards to say Kovari had died on a flight overseas from ‘an infection’.
Edwards told the court he found this suspicious, but had no evidence it was untrue – and it wasn’t until a year later he actually found out Kovari had died in Barking.
He claimed that if he’d had any criminal evidence against Port, he would have told the police – but sadly he had nothing concrete, so he felt unable to step in.
In 2019, Edwards told The Sun: “When people interview the neighbours of killers they always say, ‘He seemed so normal’.
“Stephen never seemed normal. I always thought his interest in men was bordering on unhealthy, but then you never expect it to result in killing.
“There’s no doubt he was odd – especially his other creepy obsession, his love of children’s toys.”
He added that he believed if the police had properly investigated Kovari’s death, Port would never have been able to continue his killing spree and take the lives of two more victims.
In total, 12 men were attacked by Port between 2012 and 2015, during which time he appeared on an episode of Celebrity MasterChef.
Port is currently serving a whole-life sentence, one of just 60 in the UK, which means he will die behind bars.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.