Who is Stephen Port and what is BBC Four Lives about?

The drama follows the story of serial killer Stephen Port who drugged and raped four men before dumping their bodies near his home in Barking, east London.

Known as the Grindr Killer, he used the gay dating app to target young men.

The three-part factual drama is told from the point of view of the victims’ families, focusing on their fight to uncover the truth about what happened to their sons and brothers.

Who is Stephen Port?

Port was born in Southend before his parents moved to Dagenham. 

Stephen Port is now behind bars

He drugged and raped four men before dumping their bodies near his home in Barking, east London.

Known as the Grindr Killer, he used the gay dating app to target young men.

Port was found guilty of four murders following a trial at the Old Bailey and handed a whole life sentence in November 2016.

The police watchdog is looking at whether any charges of gross misconduct should be brought against officers involved in the initial inquiry which allowed Port to slip through the net.

Port, now 46, a former escort and bus depot chef, will die behind bars after being given a whole-life jail sentence for the crimes.

Why is the handling of the case controversial?

Inquest jurors found in December that the shambolic inquiries probably contributed to the deaths of three victims – Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, who was from Essex.

Loved ones of the three men and those of the first victim, Anthony Walgate, raised concerns that something sinister had happened after each of the deaths but were ignored by investigators.

Mr Walgate’s mother Sarah Sak, Mr Whitworth’s boyfriend Ricky Waumsley and Mr Kovari’s friend John Pape all told the PA news agency they believed homophobia had played a part in the Metropolitan Police failures.

The inquests into the four deaths revealed that officers failed to carry out basic evidence gathering such as examining Port’s laptop, testing DNA on bedsheets on which two of the bodies were found, and checking the veracity of a fake suicide note found with Mr Whitworth’s body.

Port killed the four men between June 2014 and September 2015 in Barking, east London, and sexually assaulted more than a dozen others.

The Metropolitan Police apologised over the “devastating” findings, and the police watchdog confirmed it is considering reopening its inquiry into the bungled original investigations.

What do you need to know about the BBC drama?

In the drama, which begins airing tonight, Port is played by Stephen Merchant.

Actress Jaime Winstone plays Donna Taylor, the sister of victim Jack Taylor.

Sheridan Smith appears in the series as Sarah Sak, the mother of Port’s first victim Anthony Walgate.

Neil McKay, who co-created the drama with Jeff Pope, said he wanted to tell the story of the victims and their families to highlight the “massive implications” for policing.

He told BBC Breakfast: “There has been some news attention but not an enormous amount. I felt it was unappreciated and unexplored and I think that is because it wasn’t really a story about a few incompetent coppers or a few lazy coppers.

“It is basically a massive institutional failure by the Metropolitan Police where one compartment didn’t talk to another.

“And these four murders were not investigated properly and three of them wouldn’t have happened if the first had been investigated properly. So it is a smallish story in one sense but it (has) massive implications for our policing.”

Four Lives launches at 9pm on January 3 on BBC One and BBC iPlayer.


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