An inquest into the deaths of four victims of serial killer Stephen Port, including chef Daniel Whitworth from Gravesend, will not be delayed by coronavirus.
From 2014-2015 the so-called "Grindr Killer" lured to his bedroom and killed at least four men using dating apps, and was jailed for life in November 2016.
A pre-inquest review was held at the Old Bailey on Friday, during which family members were assured the inquest into their deaths is due to press ahead in January.
Port, 45, raped the four men after spiking their drinks with fatal amounts of the drug GHB and dumped their bodies near his home in Barking, east London.
Among the victims was chef Daniel Whitworth, 21, a former Dartford Grammar School pupil whose body was found in a churchyard in Essex in September 2014.
Port was given a whole life sentence for his murder together with that of fashion student Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Jack Taylor, 25, after a trial at the Old Bailey.
Andrew O’Connor, counsel to the inquest, invited judge Sarah Munro QC, appointed assistant coroner for east London, to list a further preliminary hearing for September before the inquest itself begins in January.
"We are quite confident that we will be ready for those hearings at that time," he said.
"The families have waited a long time for these hearings to take place and our submission is that we should proceed with the substantive hearings in January if it is at all possible.
"As I have indicated in our written submissions, we are very much working on the basis that we will be able to go ahead.
"We hope that we will be able to go ahead with an in-person hearing at the Old Bailey."
Mr O'Connor admitted these were "not normal times", adding: "Everyone is aware of the uncertainties that have been created by the COVID pandemic.
"In particular those present will be aware of the difficulties that the pandemic has caused and no doubt will continue to cause for court hearings."
He proposed that a detailed note explaining the arrangements proposed for January will be prepared in advance of the next hearing in September.