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Murder accused Stephen Port, 41, 'drugged and killed' young men he met on Grindr

A gay serial killer poisoned a string of young men he met on dating website Grindr so he could rape them before dumping their bodies, a court heard today.

Stephen Port, 41, met young men on Grindr and other sites, before drugging them with 'liquid ecstasy' and attacking them while they were unconscious.

Among his alleged victims was 21-year-old former Dartford Grammar student Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend.

Serial killer Stephen Port killed men he met on Grindr
Serial killer Stephen Port killed men he met on Grindr

Port, who also filmed himself having sex with unconscious men, and had a fetish for watching drug-rape pornography, it is claimed.

Between 2012 and 2015, Port carried out a series of sexual offences against 12 young men - four who died from drug overdoses, the Old Bailey was told.

After they died, he dumped three of the bodies, propped up in a sitting position, in a nearby churchyard, and one outside his block of flats, jurors heard.

Port tried to cover up the murders, and planted a fake suicide note on one of the victims, the court heard.

His "appetite" for raping young men who had been drugged is reflected in the "drug rape" pornography Port watched, it was said.

Outlining the prosecution's case, Jonathan Rees QC said: "The prosecution say that 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 who he had invited back to his flat.

"He has described himself as 70 per cent more gay than straight, and said that he was particularly attracted to smaller, boyish-type men.

"As you will hear, such young males are often referred to as 'twinks' in this context."

Port used social networking sites, including Grindr, to meet other gay men and to buy drugs to use during his sexual encounters, the court heard.

While some of his relationships with other men were "little more" than one night stands, others lasted longer, it was said.

Mr Rees said: "The evidence establishes that in his sexual relations with other men, the defendant would penetrate his partner rather than the other way round.

"This is sometimes referred to as being dominant, or a 'top', while the other role is referred to as being submissive, or a 'bottom'."

He continued: "The prosecution suggest that it is not a hard case to understand because we say all of the offending behaviour was driven by one main factor, namely the defendant's appetite for having sexual intercourse with younger, gay males while they were unconscious through drugs.

"In order to satisfy this appetite, the defendant sought surreptitiously to drug 11 out of 12 of his alleged victims in order to render them unconscious."

Port drugged his victims by spiking their drinks or injecting them with drugs which he claimed were lubrication, the court heard.

In some cases it worked but in others it didn't, jurors were told.

Mr Rees said: "The defendant's appetite for penetrating drugged young men is reflected in the pornography that he watched.

"Much of the pornography for which he searched and viewed fell into the category of what might be termed 'drug-rape' pornography, featuring males and females apparently being raped while unconscious or stupefied through drugs.

The body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, was found near a churchyard in Barking, on September 20 2014
The body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, was found near a churchyard in Barking, on September 20 2014

"The prosecution say that it is no coincidence that at least one of the videos he accessed featured a storyline involving a drug being slipped into the drink of the intended victim.

"Indeed, you will also hear that the defendant occasionally filmed himself having sexual intercourse with other males who were unconscious."

Port used a range of legal and illegal drugs, including poppers, viagra, mephedrone, methamphetamine - crystal meth - and GHB and GBL, the court heard.

GHB, a popular party drug, was particularly significant, as the four men who died did so from a drug overdose featuring high levels of it, Mr Rees said.

The drug is "particularly dangerous" when taken with other sedatives like alcohol or sleeping tablets, and has been used in "date rape" attacks because it can be easily slipped into drinks, the court heard.

The four victims who died were Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25 - had each visited Port's one-bedroom flat in Barking, east London, the jury was told.

The deaths all happened within a period of about 15 months, and there is evidence Port found "each victim sexually attractive and engaged in sexual activity with them", it was said.

Each died from a drug overdose, and three of the victims were found with a bottle of GBL/GHB "apparently in his possession in circumstances consistent with it being planted on him", Mr Rees said.

He told the court: "Each victim's body was discovered at an outside location close to the defendant's address.

"Three were found in almost exactly the same location in or close to a churchyard approximately 400m from the defendant's flat."

The fourth victim was found dumped outside the communal entrance to the block where the Port lived, the court heard.

Mr Rees continued: "There is evidence that each victim was dragged to the position where he was found and three were propped up in a sitting position."

Each victim's mobile phone was missing, and Port planted a fake suicide note on Mr Whitworth, the court heard.

Port lied to the police about knowing the victims, and tried to claim he had never met Mr Kovari and Mr Taylor, it was said.

He was also convicted of perverting the course of justice after making a false statement for the investigation into the death of Mr Walgate, the court heard.

Mr Rees said: "The prosecution say that it offends against common sense to suggest that it was just an unfortunate coincidence that all of these men happened to die from an overdose featuring high levels of GHB shortly after meeting the defendant.

"There is clearly a common factor underlying the explanation as to why each victim suffered an overdose, and that common factor is the defendant.

"The considerable efforts to which he went to cover up his connection with each of the deceased indicates that it was he, rather than the deceased themselves, who was responsible for the fatal overdoses."

The reason for why he wanted to spike the murder victims is found in the evidence of his sexual attacks against those who are still alive, the prosecutor said.

Mr Rees added: "The prosecution suggest that this evidence establishes that he had a propensity to render young gay men unconscious with drugs without their consent so he could have sex with them in that state.

"That was his particular inclination, his particular fetish, and what turned him on."

Of the eight other victims who survived, it is alleged that five were raped after being drugged and one was the victim of other sexual activity.

The last two allegedly had syringes inserted into their anuses but managed to get away before Port could take advantage of them, the court heard.

Port, of Barking, east London, denies four counts of murder, four alternative counts of manslaughter, ten counts of administering a substance with intent, seven counts of rape and four counts of assault by penetration.

The trial continues.

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