Serial killer will spend rest of life behind bars for four murders
Serial killer Stephen Port will spend the rest of his life in prison for the murders of four young gay men.
Relatives of the victims cheered and clapped as Mr Justice Openshaw told Port he would never be released.
One woman in the public gallery of the Old Bailey courtroom called the impassive Port a "scumbag".
The 41-year-old chef stalked his victims on dating websites and plied them with drinks spiked with fatal amounts of the drug GHB to rape them while they were unconscious.
He 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.
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.
The deaths of Jack Taylor, Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari and Daniel Whitworth over 15 months bore striking similarities but police failed to make the link until relatives of his final victim demanded answers.
Following a trial, Port was found guilty of the murders after a jury deliberated for 28 hours and 27 minutes. He was also convicted of a string of sex offences against seven other men who came forward following his arrest.
A man in the public gallery shouted at Port: "I hope you die a long slow death you piece of shit."
The judge told Port that he had carried out the murders to "satisfy his lust" for sex with young men who were rendered unconscious.
He highlighted Port's attempt to cover up two of his murders with a fake suicide notes as "wicked and monstrous".
Earlier, statements from the loved ones of the four murder victims and one of Port's sex assault victims were summarised by prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC.
The mother of Mr Walgate said the death of her son had "devastated and broken the family".
Adam, only brother of Mr Kovari spoke of the difficulty in telling their mother of his death, saying "there is no pain greater than losing a child".
Daniel Whitworth's father Adam said he had been given "a life sentence of grief".
The family of Jack Taylor told how his murder had turned their lives "upside down".
Mr Rees said the Taylor family had been "a model and picture of dignity" in the trial - a view agreed by the judge.
A sex attack victim, who cannot be identified, told how he blamed himself for not reporting the assault sooner saying he could have avoided Mr Taylor's death if he had.
In mitigation, David Etheridge QC, said that on the jury verdicts, in this period of his life, Stephen Port "descended into a vortex" in which drug taking fuelled his private life with satisfaction of his sexual desire.
"He graduated from a fetish to a fixation from a fixation to a compulsion," he said.
The initial handling of the case provoked fierce criticism from friends, family and campaigners who had urged police to take their concerns seriously and act sooner.
Following Port's conviction on Wednesday, Commander Stuart Cundy said he had written a letter of condolence to the loved ones of the young men and apologised for "missed opportunities".
A total of 17 officers are being investigated over their handling of the case, seven of whom could face the sack if found to be guilty of gross misconduct.
The force is now re-examining 58 unexplained deaths involving the drug GHB from a four-year period across London to make sure that foul play has not been missed in any other cases.
Following the verdicts, Mr Taylor's family, who are planning to sue, said: "We do believe Jack would still be here if they had done their job. The police should be held accountable for Jack's death."
They spoke of their frustrations with officers involved the early inquiry who they said refused to regard Mr Taylor's death as suspicious.
They said: "You have got to see it as suspicious because young people do not just die. This is somebody's life, somebody's son."
Before Mr Taylor's murder, Mr Kovari's friend John Pape said he had "raised the alarm".
He told the Press Association that he felt "prejudice and ignorance played their part" in the intial investigation.
He said: "With Port already on their radar and with so much to link those first three deaths, why else would they fail to connect them?"
The family of Mr Whitworth acknowledged the case was now in the hands of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, adding: "The fight goes on until all our questions are answered."
The court heard Port had an insatiable desire for boyish-looking men he referred to as Twinks.
He trawled the internet for pornography involving inert young men being "raped" by older men.
The first victim, 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 officers to distance himself from the fashion student and occasional male escort.
He was later jailed for perverting the course of justice but continued to claim Mr Walgate died from taking his own drugs.
Second 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 to be discovered by a dog walker.
Port constructed a complex web of deceit, telling his neighbour that Mr Kovari died of an infection in Spain.
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".
Mr Rees told jurors that the misinformation was to "lay the groundwork" for implicating his third victim, Mr Whitworth, even though Port maintained his story.
Three weeks after Mr Kovari was found dead, the same dog walker stumbled across the body of Mr Whitworth, 21, from Gravesend, Kent, 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."
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 Rees told jurors.
Mr Taylor, 25, died within hours of hooking up with Port on Grindr in the early hours of September 13 2015.
After killing him, Port got rid of the forklift truck driver's mobile phone and deleted their communication on the gay 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", the court heard.
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 trouser pocket.
The jury convicted Port of a total of 22 offences against 11 men, including the four murders, four rapes, 10 counts of administering a substance, and four sex assaults.
During the sentencing, Mr Justice Openshaw made reference to the police investigation.
He pointed out that officers had accepted the death of his first victim, Mr Walgate, "at face value", adding: " Whether the police were right to do so, in the light of what they knew or ought to have found out, is for others to decide having thoroughly inquired into the matter, which it has not been appropriate for us to do in the course of the criminal trial."
On the death of Port's fourth and final victim some 15 months later, the judge said: "It is not for me to say whether the seeming bizarre coincidence of these three gay young men being found dead so close together might have given rise to suspicions that these deaths were not the result of ordinary self-administered drug overdoses, but that is how their deaths, including Jack Taylor's death, was treated at the time.
"The competence and adequacy of the investigation will later be examined by others, as I have said."
Outside court, the Taylor family said justice had been done.
Mr Taylor's sister Donna said: "We finally have justice for Jack and the other boys.
"A sick and twisted scumbag will never be able to hurt or destroy any other family's life.
"Jack can finally rest in peace. We will always be completely heartbroken."