'Grindr killer' story to be told in new BBC series

Chilling case of ‘Grindr Killer’ who murdered four men before being brought to justice thanks to the tireless work of their families is told in BBC series starring Stephen Merchant

  • Stephen Port murdered four men in a London killing spree in 2015 and 2016
  • The story of how their families fought for justice is told in BBC1’s Four Lives
  • Stars Stephen Merchant as the killer and Sheridan Smith as a victim’s mother 
  • The story of how the families of four men murdered by ‘Grindr serial killer’ Stephen Port fought for justice will be told in a new BBC series starring Stephen Merchant. 

    Four Lives, which premieres on Monday night on BBC1, tells the tragic stories of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor, and how their families worked to prove their loved ones had been murdered. 

    Merchant, 47, best known for comedies including The Office, plays Port, who met his four victims online, enticing them to his home in Barking. 

    The four men all died after being given fatal doses of drugs by Port, who then dumped their bodies locally in a killing spree spanning 16 months. 

    The story of how the families of four men murdered by 'Grindr serial killer' Stephen Port (pictured) fought for justice will be told in a new BBC series starring Stephen Merchant.

    Stephen Merchant as the serial killer

    The story of how the families of four men murdered by serial killer Stephen Port (left) fought for justice will be told in a new BBC series starring Stephen Merchant as the murderer (right)

    Port's first victim Anthony Walgate, a 23-year-old fashion student from Hull

    Tim Preston as Anthony in Four Lives

    Port’s first victim Anthony Walgate, left, a 23-year-old fashion student from Hull. Right, Tim Preston as Anthony in Four Lives

    It comes after inquests into the deceased concluded that fundamental failings by the Metropolitan Police ‘probably’ contributed to three of the four deaths. 

    The programme is written by Neil McKay and stars Sheridan Smith as Sarah Sak, the mother of Port’s first victim Anthony Walgate, a 23-year-old fashion student from Hull.

    ‘Four young men with their entire future ahead of them lost their lives in a brutal and tragic way,’ McKay told Radio Times.

    ‘This is a story not only of the consequences of that loss but also of the extraordinary courage and resilience shown by those who loved them as they sought truth and justice. It is a privilege to be able to tell it.’ 

    Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor were all found dead a short distance from the east London home of Stephen Port in 2014 and 2015.

    For more than three years Port, 41, carried out attacks against 11 men under the age of 26, including the four who died, after watching violent porn featuring drugged men and women.

    Port raped and killed his Slovakian flatmate Gabriel Kovari, 22

    Jakub Svec

    Port raped and killed his Slovakian flatmate Gabriel Kovari, 22, left, played by Jakub Svec

    Jack Taylor was a forklift operator and aspiring police officer from Essex, who became the final victim of Port in September 2015

    Paddy Rowan as Jack in the series

    Jack Taylor (left) was a forklift operator and aspiring police officer from Essex, who became the final victim of Port in September 2015. Right, Paddy Rowan as Jack in the series

    Daniel Whitworth, 21, was a chef who became the third victim of Port

    Leo Flanagan as Daniel with Robert Emms as long-term partner, Ricky

    Daniel Whitworth, 21, was a chef who became the third victim of Port. Right, Leo Flanagan as Daniel with Robert Emms as long-term partner, Ricky

    The bus station chef lured young men to his flat after meeting them on gay dating websites such as Grindr.

    He spiked their drinks with GHB – a drug known as liquid ecstasy – and raped them while they were out cold.

    Port dumped three of the bodies next to a local church and left one outside his flat. He planted drugs on them to make it look as if they died from accidental overdoses.

    Those who survived suspected they were drugged and some have a hazy memory of being raped while incapacitated.

    Port first came to the attention of the police in June 2014 when a young man he had drugged collapsed next to him at Barking train station in East London. Despite admitting that both he and his companion had taken illegal drugs, he was released without charge. 

    Two weeks later Port raped and murdered his first victim, Anthony Walgate, before dumping the body outside his flat. He then called 999 anonymously and pretended he had merely come across the lifeless body of the 23-year-old fashion student.

    Police realised that Port was lying and charged him with perverting the course of justice after he claimed that Mr Walgate died of an accidental overdose after consensual sex. 

    Port was finally caught in October 2015 after the family of his fourth victim Jack Taylor carried out their own research and showed police the striking similarities between Mr Taylor's death and the previous three murders. Pictured, Merchant as Port in the programme

    Port was finally caught in October 2015 after the family of his fourth victim Jack Taylor carried out their own research and showed police the striking similarities between Mr Taylor’s death and the previous three murders. Pictured, Merchant as Port in the programme

    The Metropolitan Police spent £25,000 and 980 man-hours on the investigation – but crucially never opened a murder investigation.

    While on police bail, Port raped and killed two more victims, his Slovakian flatmate Gabriel Kovari, 22, and chef Daniel Whitworth, 21.

    The bodies were found within a month of each other in the summer of 2014 in the same graveyard by the same dog walker only 400 yards from Port’s flat in Barking. Port left a fake suicide note in Mr Whitworth’s left hand which said Mr Whitworth had accidentally killed Mr Kovari by giving him an overdose of GHB during a sex session. 

    The note went on to say: ‘Please do not blame the guy I was with last night, we only had sex then I left. He knows nothing of what I have done.’ Police accepted the note at face value and did not check if it matched Mr Whitworth’s handwriting. They also failed to look into Mr Whitworth’s last movements and made no attempt to trace ‘the guy I was with last night’.

    Port’s first three victims were all found in a seated position with their clothes pulled up to expose their stomachs which was caused by the bodies being dragged.

    Port was finally caught in October 2015 after the family of his fourth victim Jack Taylor carried out their own research and showed police the striking similarities between Mr Taylor’s death and the previous three murders. 

    He was jailed for life without parole at the Old Bailey in November 2016.

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