The father of the final victim of serial killer Stephen Port has told an inquest that if police had “just listened” his death could have been avoided.
Jack Taylor, 25, from Dagenham in Essex, was given a fatal dose of the date rape drug GHB and dumped within metres of two earlier victims of the sex predator in September 2015.
Initially, his death was treated as “non-suspicious”, despite three other young men being found dead in similar circumstances nearby over the course of 16 months.
On Wednesday, Mr Taylor’s father Colin became emotional as he gave evidence at an inquest into all four victims.
He told jurors that police should have listened to the people’s concerns rather than insisting the deaths were not connected.
He said: “We think because the police treated Jack as a drug addict the police didn’t look any further.
“We have got nothing against the police on the whole but listening to everything that’s come out – all four of those boys and the boys that got raped – if they had done something from the start … Port could have been stopped.
“If the police had listened to all those people from the first murder … this would not have happened.
“They should have listened, just listened to people.”
Mr Taylor described his son as a popular young man who was anti-drugs.
He worked as a forklift truck driver in a bonded warehouse storing expensive champagne bottles, where staff were regularly checked for drugs.
Mr Taylor told jurors he last saw his son at home the night before he went missing.
The family became increasingly worried after he failed to turned up for work and they could not contact him by phone.
Mr Taylor described answering the door to three female police officers with the news that his son was dead.
He said: “The youngest one went to us, ‘are you Jack’s mum and dad?’ We said yes.
“She just came out of the blue, ‘he’s dead’.
“My wife had this awful scream. They said about drugs and we said he didn’t take drugs.
“They should have sat us both down and said, ‘we’ve got some bad news’. Not straight in your face like that. It was horrible.”
Around two weeks later, two other officers visited and said: “It’s not suspicious, we believe Jack took an overdose,” the jury was told.
Mr Taylor was shocked when he later saw CCTV of his son walking with another man.
He said: “When we saw pictures of this man, we knew something had happened.”
He added that it was “like losing Jack twice” when police asked to exhume his body five weeks after his burial.
Jack’s sister Donna Taylor said she was on the phone when she heard her mother scream at being told he was dead.
Giving evidence, she said: “I went straight round to mum and dad’s. It was awful because we arrived and mum was walking around with Jack’s shirt just sobbing.”
She told jurors the family was “distraught”, and they insisted that Jack never took drugs.
Ms Taylor and her sister Jenny went on to carry out their own investigation to find out what happened to their brother.
She said: “We were adamant that for Jack to go to Barking … there must be a party, a get-together in a house, because he would not just go there.
“We wanted to speak to every one of his friends.
“We went through his Facebook because we knew pretty much everyone Jack knew. We were looking to see if there is this one person we did not know from Barking.”
The sisters also searched the internet 20 or 30 times a day for news about their brother’s body being found in Barking.
Ms Taylor said: “There was nothing and we could not understand that.
“You have only got to get a shoplifter and it’s in the (Barking and Dagenham) Post.
“We could not understand. He was important. He was somebody so he has got to be in there at some point.”
They came across an online article about two other men – Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth – being found dead in the church grounds in Barking.
But Ms Taylor said she was told Mr Whitworth “committed suicide and the other was homeless”.
In a later statement, Ms Taylor said she gave police all the information they needed to link the deaths but was met with a “closed-minded attitude”.
It was “painful” to realise her brother “could have been saved”, according to her statement.
Asked if she still felt the same, she told jurors: “You are damn right, that’s how I feel.
“My love and everything goes out to the other families and I’m so sorry they are in the situation they are in, but me and my family should not be sitting here now.
“My brother should still be here, at home with my mum and dad.”
Port, now 46, was handed a whole life order in 2016 for the murders of Anthony Walgate, 23, Mr Kovari, 22, Mr Whitworth, 21, and Mr Taylor.