| Stephen Port, Not brave nor strong enough to overpower you for sex |
but watch out if he offers you a drink
An alleged serial killer drugged and murdered four men he met on gay networking sites in his pursuit of his “fetish” for sexual intercourse with young males while they were unconscious, a court heard.
Stephen Port, 41, invited his alleged victims to his one-bedroom flat, and either spiked their drinks with the “date-rape” drug GHB or injected them with it to sate his “appetite for penetrating drugged young men”, an Old Bailey jury was told.
Port then allegedly dragged the bodies out of his flat, propping three of them up against a churchyard wall near his home in Barking, east London, having planted bottles containing GHB on some of them and a fake suicide note on one, the court heard.
Port, a chef, is accused of 29 charges against 12 young men, including four murders, seven rapes, four indecent assaults and of administering a substance with intent over a three-and-a-half-year period. Port denies the charges.
The alleged victims who died were Anthony Walgate, 23, from Hull, Gabriel Kovari, 22, from Lewisham, south London, Daniel Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent, and Jack Taylor, 25, from Dagenham, east London.
Prosecuting, Jonathan Rees QC said Port met the men through websites such as Grindr. He told the jury of 10 women and two men that the case would feature fairly graphic evidence of a sexual nature which they should approach in “a cool, dispassionate and analytical manner”.
“The prosecution say this 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 he had invited back to his flat,” Rees said.
He said Port described himself as “70% more gay than straight” with a preference for young, smaller, boyish-type men “often referred to as ‘twinks’”. His “appetite for penetrating drugged young men” was reflected in the “drug-rape” pornography he watched, and he occasionally filmed himself having sexual intercourse with unconscious males, Rees said.
He had the 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,” said Rees.
The jury heard that Port used a range of drugs: poppers or bottles of amyl nitrite; viagra; M – also referred to as Meow Meow; T or Tina, a name for crystal meth; and G, either GHB or GBL in its liquid form.
“GHB is of particular significance in this case. The postmortem examinations on the four young men who died revealed that each had died from a drug overdose featuring high levels of GHB,” said Rees.
The circumstances of each of the deaths were “strikingly similar”. Each alleged victim was between 21 and 25 and had died within a short time of meeting Port. Port had engaged in sexual activity with them, they had died of drugs toxicity, and in three cases were found with a bottle of GBL/GHB in circumstances consistent with being planted, the prosecution claim.
Each was found in an outside location close to Port’s address; three in a churchyard and one in his street. Three were propped up in a similar position, said Rees. Port was the common factor, and he had lied to police about his involvement with the victims, said Rees.
After the first death – that of Anthony Walgate – Port was convicted of perverting the course of justice after making a false statement. He had falsely denied ever having met Kovari and Taylor, and had denied writing the suicide note found on Whitworth, jurors heard.
Rees said Port had acted as a male escort, according to one former partner, who described him having a big sexual appetite and who particularly liked men in their late teens.
The defendant allegedly met with Walgate, a fashion student working as a male escort, through the website Sleepyboys, offering him £800 for an “overnight” and picking him up from Barking station at 10pm on 17 June 2014, using the name Jo Dean, the court heard. Walgate had texted a friend giving the details of who he was meeting, joking: “In case I get killed.”
Around 30 hours later, at 4am on 19 June 2014, Port called the emergency services reporting that a young boy was “collapsed or had had a seizure or was drunk” on the street outside his flat. He did not give his name, and claimed he was just driving by.
Police and ambulance attended. A doctor pronounced Walgate dead shortly before 8am, although it was clear he had been dead for some hours. A holdall next to the body contained a bottle containing GHB, and a postmortem revealed high levels of GHB in his blood and urine “within the range at which deaths from GHB intoxication have been reported”, said Rees.
Port was discovered by police, who had rung him back, asleep in bed. He then told officers that he had found the male lying unconscious and had propped him up against the wall as he thought the boy had had a seizure, and then entered his flat and had fallen asleep.
Rees told jurors there were similarities in these circumstances with the case of another man who, three weeks earlier, had been seen with Port at Barking station “in a state of distress”, and “unsteady on his feet, incoherent and vomiting”.
Port had told station, ambulance and police he had found the 23-year-old “under the influence” outside his home. The prosecution allege Port had drugged him at his flat after the two met through the website Fitlads, giving him a clear liquid, which he thought was water, and which caused him to fall unconscious. The man had woken to find himself naked and lying on the floor before Port took him to the station. He was deliberately drugged “so the defendant could engage in sexual activity with him while he was unconscious”, the prosecution alleged.
The court heard that Port’s first alleged victim was a 19-year-old whom he met in February 2012 through Grindr and invited to his flat. The man passed out and woke to find Port having sex with him which he had not consented to. The victim later told friends and a counsellor he believed his drink had been spiked, and that he had been “date-raped”.
Of the eight alleged victims who are alive, the prosecution allege five were raped after being drugged, and one was the victim of some other sexual activity.
Of the four men who died, the prosecution said: “It offends 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.”
The case continues