A detective investigating the death of two young men murdered by serial killer Stephen Port wrongly suspected they might be drug addicts, an inquest jury has heard.
Detective Sergeant Peter Sweetman said Jack Taylor – Port’s fourth and final victim – had the “stature and appearance” of someone who might use drugs, and had a similar working theory over the death of Gabriel Kovari, the second man killed by the drug-rape predator.
Mr Sweetman denied that he “carried the assumption” that Mr Taylor was a drug addict, but also admitted he did not link the deaths despite similarities about the profile of the victims and where they were found.
Inquests are being held to decide whether or not Port could have been stopped sooner.
The inquest jury in Barking, east London, heard Mr Sweetman subsequently gave an interview to the Independent Office for Police Conduct watchdog at which he said of the Taylor investigation: “Did it appear this might be the type of person in terms of stature and appearance who might take drugs? My answer is yes.”
Mr Taylor’s family previously described him as being anti-drugs.
And Mr Sweetman said of Mr Kovari: “His body was very skinny. It looked to me it could be possible that he was a drug user.”
Mr Sweetman told the inquest jury his thought process was “based on experience” with drug users.
He said: “He (Mr Kovari) was of a similar appearance to those people (drug addicts) I have dealt with in the past.
“He was very slim, didn’t eat a great deal, and if you take drugs regularly it suppresses your appetite.”
Mr Sweetman said he did not link Mr Kovari’s death in August 2014 and Mr Taylor’s in September 2015, despite both men being dumped in near-identical locations, in St Margaret’s churchyard in Barking.
He said: “Yes, there are clear similarities, but they were not striking me at the time.
“Maybe in hindsight, of course, perhaps I shouldn’t have thought in that way.
“I didn’t draw a link.”
The inquests heard Port met his victims on gay chat websites before plying them with a fatal dose of GHB and then dumping their bodies.
Port, now 46, was handed a whole-life order in 2016 for the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23, Mr Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Mr Taylor, 25.
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