London chef guilty of gay date-rape murders

Stephen Port (above) murdered four men he met on gay networking sites.
Stephen Port (above) murdered four men he met on gay networking sites.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - A British chef was on Wednesday (Nov 23) found guilty of murdering four men he met on gay networking sites after plying them with a date-rape drug.

Stephen Port, 41, lured the men back to his flat and either spiked their drinks or injected them with the drug GHB so he could have sex with them while they were unconscious, England's Old Bailey central criminal court in London heard.

He dumped their bodies in or near a graveyard close to his home in Barking, east London, planting bottles of the drug on some of them and writing a fake suicide note for another in an attempt to cover up his crimes.

Port gave no reaction as he was found guilty of the murders of Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor, and Anthony Walgate, all in their 20s, after jurors deliberated for more than 28 hours.

He was also convicted of a string of rapes and sexual assaults on other men who survived. Port could face life in prison when sentenced for 22 offences on Friday.

London's Metropolitan Police has been strongly criticised for failing to link the crimes sooner. The murders took place between June 2014 and October 2015, The family of Taylor, who are planning legal action against the force, 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 Independent Police Complaints Commission is conducting an inquiry into the handling of the case and 17 officers are facing investigation into possible misconduct.

Commander Stuart Cundy, from the Met's specialist crime and operations command, said: "From the evidence we've heard at trial there were potential opportunities that were missed. The IPCC investigation will carefully consider those."

The murders bore striking similarities, the court heard.

Detective chief inspector Tim Duffield, who led the murder investigation, said: "Stephen Port is probably one of the most dangerous individuals I've encountered.

"He's a voracious sexual predator who appears to have been fixated, nay obsessed, with surreptitiously drugging young, often vulnerable men for the exclusive purpose of rape."

Jurors heard how Port was attracted to smaller, boyish-looking men whom he sought out on social networking sites such as Grindr.

Evidence against him included Internet searches for pornography involving young men being "raped" by older men and home-made videos of him enacting his drug rape fantasy.

He also used the Internet to buy a range of drugs, including poppers, Viagra, Meow Meow - a synthetic stimulant - and GHB and GBL, chemically similar substances which can induce euphoria but can also have strong sedative effects.