The trial of alleged serial killer Stephen Port has been hit with a delay due to the case’s “complexity”.
40-year-old Stephen Port, of Barking, east London has been charged with the alleged murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor in October.
Port, who met men through gay hook-up app Grindr, allegedly used GHB to poison four men. Four bodies were found in and around the St Margaret’s Churchyard, Barking, between June 2014 and September 2015.
He faces four counts of murder, and four counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life or inflict grievous bodily harm over the deaths.
Port, who has been remanded in HMP Belmarsh, had been due to enter a plea at the Old Bailey this week – but the case was hit by delays due to the “complexity” of the ongoing investigation.
A fresh plea hearing has been scheduled for April 15. This means that a trial will not go ahead this spring as planned, and is now set to begin on October 4.
According to the Guardian, prosecutor William Emlyn-Jones conceded: “There is a very large amount of outstanding work given the scale of this inquiry.”
Mr Justice Singh agreed to extend the custody time limit for Port due to the “unusual circumstances of the case”.
Police have issued a number of appeals for information from the gay community about the killing.
Detective Chief Inspector Tim Duffield – of the Homicide and Major Crime Command – said previously: “We are keen to speak to anyone who may have information in connection with these incidents, no matter how insignificant you may think it is.
“If you have any reservations about speaking to the police, please rest assured that your call will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.
“For anyone who feels anxious about talking directly to the police, I would urge them to speak to organisations such as Galop, a specialist charity that supports LGBT people affected by violence and abuse.
“They will be able to facilitate appropriate support and advice, maintain confidentiality and treat anything you tell them with the utmost sensitivity.”
The Metropolitan Police will refer itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission following the arrest, over allegations it failed to spot a link between the deaths.
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