Serial killer Port ‘loved vulnerable, young males and playing with toys’

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Metropolitan Police undated handout file photo of Stephen Port. A jury has been sworn in for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of Port’s victims – just yards from where their bodies were found. Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were killed by the serial killer between June 2014 and September 2015. On Friday, a jury was sworn in to hear inquests for all four victims at Barking Town Hall. Issue date: Friday October 1, 2021. (PA Wire)
Metropolitan Police undated handout file photo of Stephen Port. A jury has been sworn in for the long-awaited inquests into the deaths of Port’s victims – just yards from where their bodies were found. Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were killed by the serial killer between June 2014 and September 2015. On Friday, a jury was sworn in to hear inquests for all four victims at Barking Town Hall. Issue date: Friday October 1, 2021. (PA Wire)

Serial killer Stephen Port had a “voracious appetite” for meeting “very young” men, and had a “strange” obsession with children’s toys, a former friend told a court.

Neighbour Ryan Edwards said drug-rape killer Port spent time with “vulnerable” boys to such an extent that he considered the softly-spoken chef might have “paedophile tendencies”.

Mr Edwards said he also had concerns about Port’s drug use, but was reassured by the predator that his interest in young males was legal, and that the drugs were for personal use only.

Port, now 46, was jailed for life in 2016 after being convicted of murder by plying four young, gay men with fatal doses of the drug GHB as well as a number of rapes.

The location outside Stephen Port’s former flat in Cooke Street, Barking, east London, where his first victim, fashion student Anthony Walgate’s body was found (Emily Pennink/PA) (PA Wire)
The location outside Stephen Port’s former flat in Cooke Street, Barking, east London, where his first victim, fashion student Anthony Walgate’s body was found (Emily Pennink/PA) (PA Wire)

Inquests into the four deaths in Barking east London, which are being held yards from where Port lived and dumped his victims’ bodies, are examining whether police actions could have stopped the 6ft 5in serial killer earlier.

Mr Edwards told inquest jurors he struck up a friendship with Port due to them being neighbours and members of Barking’s LGBT community.

He said their friendship was strictly platonic, and that Port would frequently invite him over to meet his new partner, something which occasionally gave Mr Edwards cause for concern.

He told the inquest jury: “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.

“Often there were difficult circumstances, broken homes, needing somewhere to stay, vulnerable.

He had a voracious appetite for meeting guys and I was always astonished at how he was able to meet so many, he wasn’t exactly ‘Mr Personality’

Ryan Edwards, former friend of Stephen Port

“I was wondering if he was bordering on paedophile tendencies, but I didn’t have any evidence.”

Mr Edwards added: “He had a voracious appetite for meeting guys and I was always astonished at how he was able to meet so many, he wasn’t exactly ‘Mr Personality’.

“That was slightly strange.”

Mr Edwards also described being invited to Port’s flat one evening to meet his “new guy”, only to find the male seemingly unable to speak and drugs paraphernalia on the coffee table.

He said: “I did ask Stephen about it and he reassured me it was for his own personal use and reassured me not to worry.

Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, Anthony Walgate, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, were killed by Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)
Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, Anthony Walgate, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, were killed by Stephen Port (Metropolitan Police/PA) (PA Media)

“Rightly or wrongly, drugs are very prevalent on the gay scene, I don’t see it as my place to police that.”

Mr Edwards said he would have reported concerns about Port’s young companions and about drug use if there was any evidence of criminal activity, as he had done with a previous friend.

He also described how Port loved playing with Transformers toys, specifically the ones designed for children.

“(It was) strange for a grown man,” Mr Edwards said, “but I took Stephen for his quirks, and there were many.”

Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were all found dead near Port’s flat during a 16-month period between June 2014 and September 2015.

The inquests continue.

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