BREAKING: Stephen Port found guilty of murdering Daniel Whitworth, as well as two more men
PUBLISHED: 10:54 23 November 2016 | UPDATED: 11:30 23 November 2016
Jurors have yet to reach verdicts relating to other charges
Serial killer Stephen Port has been found guilty of killing three men, including one from Gravesend, to fulfill his sexual fantasies.
The 41-year-old chef stalked his victims on dating websites, including Grindr, and plied them with drinks spiked with fatal amounts of date-rape drug GHB to rape them while they were unconscious, the Old Bailey heard.
Port 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.
Among his victims was 21-year-old Daniel Whitwotrh from Gravesend, who he tried to pin the blame on for the death of another victim, Gabriel Kovari.
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.
Port denied all the charges against him but was found guilty of the murders of Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor as well as a range of sexual offences against more men.
He was convicted of a total of 16 offences against nine out of 12 alleged victims, including the three murders.
Other charges he was found guilty of included seven counts of administering a substance, three rapes and three sex assaults.
The deaths over 15 months bore striking similarities but police failed to make the link until relatives of his final victim demanded answers, jurors were told.
The court heard that Port had an insatiable desire for boyish-looking men he referred to as Twinks.
Port trawled the internet for pornography involving inert young men being “raped” by older men.
Many of the victims’ relatives sat through harrowing evidence which included home videos of Port allegedly enacting his drug rape obsession.
Jurors have yet to reach verdicts relating to other charges including those around the death of Port’s first alleged murder victim, Anthony Walgate.
Mr Walgate, 23, was found dead in the communal hall of Port’s flat in Cooke Street after he called 999 anonymously in the early hours of June 19 2014.
When police tracked him down, Port lied to distance himself from the fashion student and occasional male escort.
He later claimed he “panicked” over the death of the young man.
Port was later jailed for perverting the course of justice over Mr Walgate’s death.
The second man to die was 22-year-old Slovakian Mr Kovari, who was staying on Port’s sofa as a temporary flatmate.
After killing him, Port spoke to his older sister Sharon on the phone and confessed he had a body in his bed.
But rather than going to police, he dragged the body to Barking Abbey graveyard where it was discovered by a dog walker.
Over months, he posed on Facebook as an American student to probe Mr Kovari’s grief-stricken Spanish boyfriend and divert suspicion by suggesting the victim had gone off to a sex party with “Dan”.
Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told jurors that the misinformation was to “lay the groundwork” for implicating his third victim, Daniel Whitworth.
Three weeks after the Slovakian was found dead, the same dog walker stumbled across the body of Mr Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, on September 20, 2014.
In his hand, was a suicide note taking the blame for Mr Kovari’s death, saying: “We was having some fun at a mate’s place and I got carried away and gave him another shot of G.”
It added a plea not to “blame the guy I was with last night”.
Police treated Mr Whitworth’s death “at face value” and no efforts were made to verify the sham note which turned out to be in Port’s handwriting.
Mr Taylor, 25, died within hours of hooking up with Port on Grindr in the early hours of September 13, 2015.
After murdering him, Port got rid of his mobile and deleted their communication on the dating app.
Just after 1pm the next day, Mr Taylor’s body was found by a refuse collector with a needle and syringe in his pocket.
Initially, his death was treated as “non-suspicious”.
But CCTV footage from Barking Station emerged linking him to Port, whose DNA was found on a bottle of GHB also planted in Mr Taylor’s pocket.
Giving evidence, Port denied all the charges and claimed he had left Mr Taylor “very much” alive after having “rampant” sex outside.
On why he lied to police, Port said: “The truth sounded like a lie, so I lied to make it sound like the truth.”
However, the prosecution rejected his explanations as absurd, ridiculous and cruel to the families who deserved to know the truth.
Mr Justice Openshaw gave the jurors a majority direction on the remaining counts and said he would accept a majority of at least 10 to two.
He sent the jury of 10 women and two men back out to continue deliberating.