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Murders accused 'had sex with gay men after knocking them out with drugs'

Published 05/10/2016

Court artist sketch of Stephen Port at the Old Bailey, where he is accused of drugging and murdering four men he met on gay websites (Elizabeth Cook/PA)
Court artist sketch of Stephen Port at the Old Bailey, where he is accused of drugging and murdering four men he met on gay websites (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

A sex fiend drugged and murdered four young men he met on gay networking sites such as Grindr, a court has heard.

Stephen Port, 41, plied his victims with high doses of the party drug GHB so he could have sex with them while they were unconscious at his flat in Barking, east London, jurors were told.

The chef allegedly dragged the bodies in or near a churchyard 400 metres away and propped them up, having planted bottles of GHB on some of them and written a fake suicide note for one.

He went on to lie to police about his involvement with the men as their bodies were discovered over a 15-month period.

Port is on trial at the Old Bailey accused of 29 charges including four murders, seven rapes, four indecent assaults and administering a substance with intent.

A dozen young men were subjected to sex attacks over three-and-a-half years, including the four who died, jurors were told.

They were Anthony Walgate, 23, originally from Hull; Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Lewisham, south London; Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent, and 25-year-old forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, from Dagenham, east London.

Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said: "The prosecution say it is a case about a man - the defendant - who in the pursuit of nothing more than his own sexual gratification, variously drugged, sexually assaulted and in four cases killed young gay men he had invited back to his flat."

Port, who was said to have made money as a male escort, lived in a one-bedroom flat in Cooke Street and described himself as "70% more gay than straight" with an attraction to boyish men or "twinks".

He watched "drug-rape" pornography and also filmed himself having sex with men while they were unconscious, Mr Rees said.

He allegedly ordered a range of drugs from dealers including poppers, Viagra, Meow Meow, a substance known as Tiny and GHB.

The circumstances surrounding the deaths were "strikingly similar", the prosecutor said. In three cases, the men had bottles of GHB "planted" on them, while they were all found in or near a churchyard some 400 metres from Port's home.

Port allegedly lied to police about his involvement with the victims and he was convicted of perverting the course of justice after making a false statement in the investigation into the death of his first victim, Mr Walgate, the court heard.

He denied ever meeting Mr Kovari and Mr Taylor and falsely claimed he did not write a suicide note that was found on the fourth victim, Mr Whitworth.

The first alleged rape victim met Port in February 2012 through Grindr when he was just 19 years old.

Then on June 4 2014, Port allegedly drugged a young Muslim man he met on gay website Fitlads.

When the man collapsed as Port helped him to Barking station, the defendant told police they had both taken drugs but falsely claimed to have found his friend under the influence outside his house, Mr Rees said.

On June 13, Port claimed to a Fitlads user: "The last guy I met just wanted to get high on g so it was like f***ing a rag doll as he was so out of it."

Within three weeks, Port allegedly killed his first murder victim, Mr Walgate.

In the early hours of June 19, Port made a 999 call to report a man collapsed outside the communal entrance to his flat.

He told the operator that the man appeared to have suffered a seizure or be drunk.

Middlesex University fashion student Mr Walgate was found dead and a bottle of GHB was found in his bag.

Later, Port made a his false witness statement claiming he had found him when he returned from a night shift.

The prosecutor told jurors Port had actually arranged to met the occasional male escort through a website called Sleepyboys.

Port denies all the charges against him and the trial was adjourned until tomorrow.

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