'Serial killer' accused of finding victims on gay websites to stand trial next year
An alleged serial killer accused of drugging and murdering four young men, including one from Kent, over 14 months will stand trial in April next year.
Stephen Port, 40, allegedly met his victims on gay websites and invited them to his house where he poisoned them with the party drug GHB.
After suffering from overdoses, the men, in their twenties, were dumped in or near a churchyard in east London.
On Sunday, Port, of Cooke Street, Barking, east London, was charged with four counts of murder and four counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm.
He was dressed in a green jumpsuit with one yellow sleeve and shoulder panel when he appeared at the Old Bailey via video link from Pentonville prison on Wednesday.
The bald defendant sat with his head bowed and spoke only to confirm his name during the short preliminary hearing.
Recorder of London Nicholas Hilliard QC set a provisional timetable for the case with a plea and case management hearing on January 6 and a trial on April 11.
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC estimated that the trial would take four weeks.
No application for bail was made and Port was remanded in custody.
The first victim, Anthony Walgate, 23, was found dead on Cooke Street on June 19 last year. He was a fashion and design student at Middlesex University who was originally from Hull but living in Barnet.
The second victim, Gabriel Kovari, 22, was found by a dog walker near St Margaret's churchyard on August 28 last year. He was originally from Slovakia but lived in Lewisham, south London.
Just under a month later, on September 20 last year, the same dog walker discovered the body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent, near the same churchyard.
Then on September 14 this year, Jack Taylor, 25, a forklift truck driver from Dagenham, was found dead near the abbey ruins close to North Street.
The deaths were not initially linked but after further investigation they were referred to the Metropolitan Police homicide and major crime command in October 14.
The force has referred its handling of the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).