andThe tone was set from the first contact with the first victim’s family. Thomas Walgate tells how he was watching England take on Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup when a female police constable arrived at his home in Hull.
‘She told me, “Your brother Anthony has been found dead in London.” I told her I didn’t have a brother called Anthony, so I thought it must be a mistake and she’d come to the wrong person.
‘But then she said, “Oh, it must be your son then.”’
andIncredible as it may seem, a family liaison officer assigned to the Köváris never got in touch with them. The first time any of the Barking and Dagenham borough officers investigating Gabriel’s death spoke to the family was when they called Adam to ask if Gabriel had already been buried, as they wanted to conduct further toxicology tests.
Despite Port giving conflicting statements and admitting that Anthony had died in his flat,Jack’s eldest sister Donna was on the phone to her parents, Jeannette and Colin, when the police arrived to give them the terrible news, and heard what happened next. ‘They came to the door and said, “Are you Jack Taylor’s mum and dad?” They said they were and the police officer said, “He’s dead.” It was as blunt as that. Mum just screamed.’
They thought that Gabriel was 'just' a homeless person and didn't bother to investigate his death.Police checked to see if he had previous convictions (he didn’t), but did not check an intelligence database on which they would have discovered that Port had been accused of assaulting another man two weeks earlier.
Ironically, the police did check Anthony’s name against the intelligence database, in what his family believe was another sign of the skewed attitude of detectives.
Despite the 'suicide note' of Daniel's saying that he was responsible for Gabriel's death, the police never bothered to check that they even knew each other (they didn't).
And despite Jack being found in the same churchyard as Gabriel and Daniel, and having died of the same overdose of GHB as them, the police didn't think his death was in any way suspicious,In truth, the two had never met, and a simple check of their mobile-phone records would have shown they were not in the same place when Gabriel died, but police failed to look. Nor did they carry out DNA tests on the unexplained bed sheet found with Daniel, which would have led them to Port.
The police assumed that they were all gay druggies who overdosed and left it at that. It took pressure from the families - including Jack's sisters doing their own investigation - to get the police to take their deaths seriously.The family was not even assigned a family liaison officer as he was not regarded as a victim.
‘They asked about his sexuality right from the beginning and brushed it off as a druggie who had taken an overdose,’ says Donna, who is 12 years Jack’s senior. ‘They are discriminating against people in so many different ways.’
If a family liaison officer had been allocated to the Taylors, they might have discovered that Jack was not someone who was remotely likely to score drugs from a stranger and then overdose in a graveyard, as the police assumed.
Yet jurors in the inquest into the murders last month were not asked to consider if prejudice, homophobia or discrimination contributed to the deaths. Despite situations like this,Donna says she and Jenny passed the information on to the police and the next day Port was arrested. ‘The police did tell us that if it hadn’t been for us there would have been more deaths,’ she says. She quickly adds that she is not looking for credit, but uses it as another exhibit in the families’ case for why some officers should lose their jobs.
The Met's lawyers argued that,Officers denied Ricky Waumsley, Whitworth’s live-in partner of four years, access to his supposed “suicide note”. They dismissed him “in every single way”, Waumsley said, “because we were a gay, unmarried couple”.
When Whitworth’s father, Adam, and stepmother, Mandy, asked police what the drug GHB was, they were told to “Ask, Ricky, they know about this stuff,” he said. Waumsley had never heard of GHB. By “they”, the officer said under questioning, she meant as Whitworth’s partner, not as a gay man.
Which is pretty damning even if that was the extent of their failings. And it's not. As John Pape, a friend of Gabriel's, pointed out,the claim of prejudice should not be an issue left to the jury to decide. The mistakes by individual officers could be explained by “forgetfulness, indolence, lack of training, stress, overwork or inadequate supervision and management”. Lack of resources, and management structure failings, were valid explanations, rather than prejudice.
Pape was also fighting, along with Anthony's and Jack's families to get the police to properly investigate Gabriel's death, but was unable to get any traction. It seems the family of Daniel had reluctantly accepted that his death was a suicide and focused on their grief.the inquest had exposed underfunding as a factor, and officers were “overstretched”. “But, consequently, they ‘prioritised’ in ways that exposed their prejudice. It led to incompetence and unequal treatment.”
The police used every excuse they could to not do their job. They were gay druggies, they were homeless, dying is just what happens, why waste time checking what we already know? The lack of care about them carried through to their interactions with the families - the callousness with which the police communicated with them is horrifying. If they'd only taken Anthony's death seriously then the other three men would still be alive. But they didn't. And the worst part is that no-one has faced any consequences. From the Telegraph article,
There are calls for a proper inquiry into homophobia in the Met but even if it happens, and even if institutional homophobia is found, it won't make any difference. The Macpherson report has made little to no difference in the almost 25 years since its publication so there's no reason to think that a report on homophobia will have any greater impact. It's all so f.cking depressing.In the six years since the last of the murders, 17 police officers have been investigated by the watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), of whom nine were found to have performance failings.
None of them has been disciplined, and at least five have been promoted.