A chef met a series of younger men on gay dating sites and lured them with the promise of romance or sex to his east London apartment, where he poisoned their drinks and then raped them as they lay unconscious and dying.
He then dumped their bodies around his neighborhood, planting drugs and even suicide notes on them to make it appear as if they had overdosed, police and prosecutors said.
On Wednesday a London jury found Stephen Port, 41, guilty of the murders of four young men over a 15-month span between June 2014 and September 2015. Port also was convicted of drugging or sexually assaulting seven other victims who survived.
"He bought drugs on a regular basis and used them to stupefy his victims without their knowledge so he could rape or sexually assault them," said Commander Stuart Cundy of the Metropolitan Police after the verdict
. "Four families have been left devastated by the loss of their loved ones in such awful circumstances and seven more men have suffered horrific sexual assaults, the trauma of which will stay with them for a long time."
Prosecutors said Port targeted victims on Grindr and other gay dating sites and apps, then plied them with drinks laced with fatal amounts of the drug GHB, or gamma hydroxybutyrate, otherwise known as liquid ecstasy.
He then raped them while they were unconscious and before they died, according to testimony at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, more commonly known as Old Bailey.
Port, who worked as a chef in a bus garage, then dragged the bodies of his victims out into the street and left them slumped against walls not far from his flat in the Barking neighborhood of east London, police said.
He 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.
The Old Bailey court also heard testimony on how Port embarked on an elaborate cover-up of the murders, disposing of victims' mobile phones and repeatedly lying to police. He planted a fake suicide note in Whitworth's hand and tried to frame him for the death of Kovari.
The jury ultimately convicted Port of a total of 22 charges against 11 male victims, including four additional rapes, four sex assaults and 10 counts of administering a substance with the intent to stupefy. He was acquitted of three additional counts of rape.
"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," Cundy said. "We would appeal for them to contact us as soon as possible."
Port is scheduled to be sentenced Friday and faces up to life in prison.
"We are bereft at the loss of such a clever, talented and much loved boy," said Mandy Pearson, Whitworth's stepmother, in a statement read outside the courthouse.
"The fight goes on until all our questions are answered. It has been difficult to say the least and has had a huge impact on our lives, which will never be the same again. We are emotionally and physically exhausted."