Wednesday 28 June 2017

Life sentence for 'monstrous' killer of four gay men

Dean Gray London

A serial killer will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murders of four young gay men.

Relatives of the victims cheered and clapped as Mr Justice Openshaw told Stephen Port he would never be released.

One woman in the public gallery of the Old Bailey courtroom called the impassive Port a "scumbag".

The 41-year-old chef stalked his victims on dating websites and plied them with drinks spiked with fatal amounts of the drug GHB to rape them while they were unconscious.

He dumped their bodies in or near a graveyard within 500 metres of his flat in Barking, east London, and embarked on an elaborate cover-up.

He disposed of their mobile phones, repeatedly lied to police and planted a fake suicide note in the hand of one of his victims, taking the blame for the death of another.

The deaths of Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth over 15 months bore striking similarities but police failed to make the link until relatives of his final victim demanded answers.

Following a trial, Port was found guilty of the murders after a jury deliberated for 28 hours and 27 minutes. He was also convicted of a string of sex offences against seven other men who came forward following his arrest.

The judge told Port that he had carried out the murders to "satisfy his lust" for sex with young men who were rendered unconscious.

He highlighted Port's attempt to cover up two of his murders with a fake suicide notes as "wicked and monstrous".

A sex attack victim, who cannot be identified, told how he blamed himself for not reporting the assault sooner saying he could have avoided Mr Taylor's death if he had.

In mitigation, David Etheridge QC, said that on the jury verdicts, in this period of his life, Port "descended into a vortex" in which drug taking fuelled his private life with satisfaction of his sexual desire.

"He graduated from a fetish to a fixation, from a fixation to a compulsion," he said.

Following Port's conviction, Commander Stuart Cundy said he had written a letter of condolence to the loved ones of the young men and apologised for "missed opportunities".

A total of 17 officers are being investigated over their handling of the case, seven of whom could face the sack if found to be guilty of gross misconduct.

Following the verdicts, Mr Taylor's family, who are planning to sue, said: "We do believe Jack would still be here if they had done their job. The police should be held accountable."

Before Mr Taylor's murder, Mr Kovari's friend John Pape said he had "raised the alarm".

He said that he felt "prejudice and ignorance played their part" in the initial investigation.

The family of Mr Whitworth acknowledged the case was now in the hands of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

"The fight goes on until all our questions are answered," they said.

The jury convicted Port of a total of 22 offences against 11 men, including the four murders, four rapes, 10 counts of administering a substance, and four sex assaults.

Irish Independent

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