Police faced a storm of criticism as serial killer Stephen Port was found guilty of murdering four young gay men to fulfil his depraved sexual fantasies.
The 41-year-old chef stalked his victims on dating websites and plied them with drinks spiked with fatal amounts of drug GHB to rape them while they were unconscious.
He dumped their bodies in or near a graveyard within 500 metres of his flat in Barking, east London, and embarked on an elaborate cover-up.
He disposed of their mobile phones, repeatedly lied to police and planted a fake suicide note in the hand of one of his victims, taking the blame for the death of another.
Following a trial at the Old Bailey in London, Port was found guilty of the murders after a jury deliberated for 28 hours and 27 minutes. He could face spending the rest of his life behind bars.
The deaths of Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth over 15 months bore striking similarities, but police allegedly failed to make the link until relatives of his final victim demanded answers.
Mr Taylor’s family, who are planning to sue, said: “We do believe Jack would still be here if they had done their job.
“The police should be held accountable for Jack’s death. We do understand it’s not them who took Jack’s life, but Stephen Port would have been stopped.”
The family refused to accept Mr Taylor would have taken drugs willingly and put pressure on officers to treat his death as suspicious.
Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “While timely and commendable, this verdict is no compensation for the loss of four young gay men who had their lives, hopes and dreams cut short.”
He accused the police of “class, gender and sexuality bias” and said lives would have been saved if police had acted on concerns sooner.
He said: “If four young well-off women had been murdered in Mayfair, I believe the police would have made a public appeal much sooner and mounted a far more comprehensive investigation.”
An Independent Police Complaints Commission inquiry is ongoing into the handling of the case and 17 officers are facing investigation into possible misconduct.
Family quietly cheered as Port was found guilty of murdering Mr Walgate by a majority of 11 to one.
Port’s sentencing was adjourned until tomorrow.
The court heard Port had an insatiable desire for boyish-looking men he referred to as “twinks”. He trawled the internet for pornography involving inert young men being “raped” by older men.