LONDON — UK police are reviewing the deaths of dozens men who used sex-enhancing drugs, amid concerns that cases previously dismissed as drug overdoses may be further victims of serial killer Stephen Port.
Chef Port, 41, was found guilty of murdering four gay men and drugging and sexually assaulting seven others by a jury at London’s Old Bailey on Wednesday.
The Metropolitan Police Service told CNN they had identified at least 58 deaths from poisoning by the date rape drug GHB between June 2011 and October 2015 — the period in which Port carried out his crimes.
“It is not known if these deaths were related to chemsex activities. In many cases police involvement was limited with the matter dealt with by the coroner,” a police spokesman told CNN. “A review of these deaths is now under way to establish any suspicious circumstances.”
Police say there is so far nothing to suggest the cases are linked to Port.
Victims lured via dating sites
Seven police officers are under investigation for gross misconduct over their handling of the case; a further ten police officers have been accused of misconduct.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating “how officers responded to the four deaths before the homicide investigation was launched, including the nature of the investigative work undertaken, how evidence was examined and how similarities between the cases were considered,” it said in a statement.
Port, who lived alone in Barking, east London, was arrested after the first death, but only charged with perverting the course of justice — which meant he was able to carry on killing after serving a short jail term.
He lured his victims to his home using online dating sites and then either injected his victims with drugs or spiked their drink, using ‘poppers,’ Viagra and sleeping pills as well as GHB and crystal meth.
GHB was found in the bodies of each of the four men who died and, in three of the four deaths, drugs were planted on or near their bodies to make it look as though they had overdosed.
Port then dragged the bodies of his victims out into the street and left them slumped against walls not far from where he lived, police said.
Port had denied all the charges against him but was found guilty of the murders of fashion student Anthony Walgate, 23; Gabriel Kovari, 22, originally from Slovakia; fellow chef Daniel Whitworth, 21; and forklift truck driver Jack Taylor, 25.
Killer showed no remorse
“Port is a highly devious, manipulative and self-obsessed individual who has not once shown a shred of remorse for his actions,” said Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Met’s Specialist Crime and Operations command.
He said Port was “motivated by his overwhelming desire to have sex with younger gay men while they were unconscious through drugs.”
None of the sexual assault victims had contacted police before Port was charged in relation to the four deaths.
“I hope Port’s conviction today offers reassurance to the LGBT community that if you have been a victim of crime our officers will take you seriously, treat your situation with the utmost sensitivity and do their very best to bring offenders before the courts,” said Cundy.
“We can’t rule out the fact there may be other victims out there who suffered at Port’s hands and have yet to come forward. We would appeal for them to contact us as soon as possible.”