Trial of alleged GHB serial killer Stephen Port to begin today

The trial of Stephen Port, the man accused of murdering four men in East London after meeting them on gay dating sites is set to get underway at the Old Bailey today. The 41-year-old, from Barking, has been charged with four counts of murder and four counts of administering a poison, after allegedly using lethal doses of the party drug GHB – also known as liquid ecstasy – to kill his victims in a series of attacks spanning 14 months. Port has also been accused of six further counts of administering a poison, seven of rape and four sexual assaults against another eight men in a series of attacks between 2011 and 2015. The chef also faces four alternative charges of manslaughter for each of the murder counts. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. The four deceased victims were found between June 2014 and September 2015 within 300 metres of each other, either in or around a church yard in Barking. Art student Anthony Walgate, 23, was found dead on Cooke Street in Barking on 19 June 2014. On August 28 2014, the body of Slovak-born artist Gabriel Kovari, 22, was discovered close to a churchyard nearby. On 20 September, the body of Daniel Whitworth, 21, of Gravesend, Kent was found in the same spot. Then, on September 14 2015, forklift driver Jack Taylor, 25 was found dead in Barking Abbey ruins. Police subsequently linked the deaths and opened an investigation, leading to Port being was arrested and charged just over a month later. victims

Ports is accused of drugging and killing Anthony Walgate (l), 23, Daniel Whitworth, 21, Jack Taylor, 25, and Gabriel Kovari, 22, before dumping their bodies in and around a churchyard in Barking.

The Metropolitan Police Service, which has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) over its handling of the case, said in September 2014 that the deaths of Mr Kovari and Mr Whitworth were "unusual and confusing", but insisted that although they were found in the same location, there was "nothing, at the moment, suspicious". The force has come under fire from veteran LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell for their failure to link the deaths sooner and alert the gay community to the potential threat. "It is appalling that the police did not alert the gay community last year that a serial killer could be on the loose. Concerns were raised with the police at the time by a friend of one the victims, Gabriel Kovari, but they seem to have been ignored", Tatchell said. "Four young men are dead. This appeal should have been made in June and August last year after the first two deaths. If the police had done that, some of these men might still be alive". Port's trial is expected to last up to 10 weeks, after originally being delayed for six months due to the depth of the investigation into Port's alleged crimes. More stories: Making history: The new generation of black LGBT+ role models Brent Corrigan accuses James Franco’s ‘King Cobra’ of showing contempt for gay culture