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September 24th 2020

Inquests

Latest pre-inquest hearing held for Stephen Port’s victims

Vicky Richardson

Vicky Richardson

Manager, Civil Liberties

Latest pre-inquest hearing held for Stephen Port’s victims

The latest pre-inquest review (PIR) into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, the four men murdered by serial killer Stephen Port between 2014 and 2015, took place today (24 September) at the Old Bailey.

The latest pre-inquest review (PIR) into the deaths of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, the four men murdered by serial killer Stephen Port between 2014 and 2015, took place today (24 September) at the Old Bailey.

Our clients, some of the families of those killed by Port, along with legal counsel attended via video conference. Her Honour Judge Sarah Munro QC, Assistant Coroner for the East London coronial area, sat in the Old Bailey. Also in attendance was Mandy Pearson, step-mother to Daniel Whitworth.

At the hearing, it was confirmed that the inquest, which is due to start on 7 January, 2021, was being moved from the Old Bailey to Barking Town Hall.

Victoria Richardson, legal adviser to the families, from Hudgell Solicitors said: “Every PIR brings the families a step closer to their objective of achieving a full investigation into the details surrounding the deaths of Anthony, Gabriel, Daniel and Jack.

“They are particularly pleased that despite the current backlog and ensuing scheduling difficulties being experienced by the courts that the inquests will go ahead, albeit at a different venue.”

Counsel to the coroner, Andrew O’Connor QC said:

“The view was taken, with the number of people now certainly involved in these hearings, the Old Bailey simply would not be able to provide sufficient accommodation…that in part being due to the fact that such court space as there is available at the Old Bailey is required for urgent custody cases to be tried.

“For that reason, a number of other venues were explored.

“Barking Town Hall has accommodation available and suitable so for that reason, my lady has taken a provisional decision that is the venue where the inquest will be heard.

“Of course, we would have wished these hearings to take place at the Old Bailey.

“These are times we all have to make compromises.

“We know the families prefer these hearings take place rather than be delayed again and the only practicable way for that to happen is if they are moved to Barking.”

Mr O’Connor also said that a jury of 11 would be sworn in on 7 January and that the inquests are expected to last for up to nine weeks.

The families were represented today by Paul Clark of Garden Court Chambers.

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