Entertainment

Sheridan Smith befriends murder victim’s mum who helped catch Grindr serial killer


Sheridan Smith has befriended a mother whose son Anthony Walgate was murdered by ‘Grindr serial killer’, Stephen Port.

The actress, 39 – who is set to play Sarah Sak in an upcoming BBC drama based on the harrowing incident – was touched by the grieving parent’s drive to catch the convicted murderer, and the pair now regularly exchange texts.

Detailing her stint on Four Lives, the TV star recently told Rob Brydon in an interview: ‘With the woman I play, I got to be really good friends with her. The strength and what they went through – I think it’s going to be a really harrowing piece.’

The criminal, 46, drugged and raped four young gay men and dumped their bodies near his home in Barking, east London, between 2014 and 2015. 

Close: Sheridan Smith (pictured as Sarah Sak in Four Lives) has befriended a mother whose son Anthony Walgate was murdered by ‘Grindr serial killer’, Stephen Port 

The Gavin & Stacey icon added during her virtual chat with her former co-star Rob: ‘You just feel such a responsibility to tell their story. It must be hard for all the families because they were on set here and there.’

Port is now serving a whole life term for the murders of fashion student Anthony, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, and forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, 25. 

BBC producers reached out to the performer after Sarah, 55, requested to be portrayed by a ‘gobby northern bird, someone like Sheridan Smith or Sarah Lancashire.’ 

The brave mum told The Mirror: ‘Sheridan had me to a T, and the actor who plays my son got all his mannerisms just right. It was like watching Anthony in motion. It made me so sad – and when a break came Sheridan said, ”Shall we go and have a fag?”

Jailed: The criminal (pictured), 46, drugged and raped four young gay men and dumped their bodies near his home in Barking, east London , between 2014 and 2015

Jailed: The criminal (pictured), 46, drugged and raped four young gay men and dumped their bodies near his home in Barking, east London , between 2014 and 2015

Port is now serving a whole life term for the murders of (L-R) chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, 25, fashion student Anthony, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, and forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, 25.

Tragic: Port is now serving a whole life term for the murders of (L-R) chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, 25, fashion student Anthony, 23, and Gabriel Kovari, 22

‘Sheridan walked in and within five minutes it was like I’d known her for ever. She’s so down to earth and had a cuppa with me and my sister Kate. She said she always wants to meet the people she plays and she hoped she would do me proud. 

‘There’s a moment when Stephen Merchant [who plays Port] stares at Sheridan as he walks into court and he’s really got the look of Port about him. It sent a chill down my spine.’

The supermarket worker also recalled watching the screen star ‘dote’ on her baby son Billy, 11 months, and revealed she’s due to meet him once Covid restrictions have completely lifted. 

Sarah insisted she only took part in the drama as the families of the other victims agreed to do so and paid tribute to her ‘caring’ son, who she believes is ‘still looking after me in a way’.

''With the woman I play, I got to be really good friends with her': The actress, 39, detailed her stint during an interview with her former Gavin and Stacey co-star, Rob Brydon, 55

”With the woman I play, I got to be really good friends with her’: The actress, 39, detailed her stint during an interview with her former Gavin and Stacey co-star, Rob Brydon, 55

Four Lives, formerly called The Barking Murders, was filmed in 2019, but the pandemic and an inquest into the victims’ deaths has delayed its release. 

Sheridan added in a press release: ‘I love playing real life characters – especially an inspirational woman like Sarah Sak – but with it comes responsibility.

‘Along with the other families, Sarah went through so much heartache and it would have been easy for her to just accept what she was being told by the police, but something inside made her keep fighting for her son.’  

Port had a fetish for sex with the unconscious so drugged and raped his victims to ‘satisfy his lust’ after meeting them on dating app Grindr.  

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, he raped and murdered his first victim Anthony, before dumping the body outside his flat. He then called 999 anonymously and pretended he had merely come across his lifeless body.

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

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

Sarah and the sister’s of Port’s fourth victim picked up on the pattern of deaths and pushed authorities to look into it further. 

Horrific: Port (pictured) had a fetish for sex with the unconscious so drugged and raped his victims to 'satisfy his lust' after meeting them on dating app Grindr

Horrific: Port (pictured) had a fetish for sex with the unconscious so drugged and raped his victims to ‘satisfy his lust’ after meeting them on dating app Grindr

While on police bail, he raped and killed two more victims, whose 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 his flat in Barking. 

In each case, their mobile phones were missing and post-mortem examinations found the cause of death to be a GHB overdose. 

It was only after the death of his final victim that a full investigation was launched. The Independent Office for Police Conduct launched an investigation after Scotland Yard admitted ‘missed opportunities’ to catch the killer.

Sarah’s book, A Life Stolen: The Tragic True Story of My Son’s Murder, is due to be published next year.

New role: Stephen Merchant is playing Port in the upcoming drama, which will be released once an inquest into the victims' deaths is heard

New role: Stephen Merchant is playing Port in the upcoming drama, which will be released once an inquest into the victims’ deaths is heard



Source link

Related Articles

Back to top button