Stephen Port’s ‘hustler’ drug dealer was today found guilty of murdering a gay man he met on Grindr in a case with chilling similarities to the serial killer’s own crimes.
Gerald Matovu, 25, gave Eric Michels, 54, a fatal dose of GHB before stealing his bank card, MacBook, iPhone and a suitcase full of alcohol at his home in Chessington, south-west London last summer.
Matovu had supplied Port, a former escort and bus garage cook, with party drug mephedrone, known as Miaow Miaow, and GHB, to stupify his victims during dates after meeting using Grindr – a dating app for gay, bisexual or transsexual people.
Port would rape his victims while they were out cold – but in four cases the men died and he was later convicted of their murders, receiving a rare whole life sentence.
Today Matovu was convicted of Mr Michels’ murder in August 2018 – but jurors were not told about his connection to Port, 44, and the fact he sold him the drugs he later used to murder his victims.
Members of the Mr Michel’s family in the Old Bailey shouted out ‘yes – the rest of your life in prison’ at Matovu as the guilty verdict arrived – but the killer looked on impassive and said nothing.
Matovu and his lover, Brandon Dunbar, 23, who was also convicted of a series of sexual assaults and thefts today, targeted 12 men on Grindr who they drugged and then robbed.
Gerald Matovu, 23, left today, from London, supplied serial killer Stephen Port, right, with ‘date rape’ drugs he used in four murders, and was today found guilty of murder himself
Actor Eric Michels, who had appeared in the Bond film Skyfall, died at his home in Surrey after being drugged by Matovu
This 3ml syringe without a needle attached was found on the floor beside the bed and was used to kill Eric with a fatal dose of GHB
‘You’ve taken away my father – and robbed him of his dreams’: Fury of murder victim’s teenage son
Actor Eric Michels, who had appeared in the Bond film Skyfall, died at his home in Surrey
Eric Michels’ family blasted his killer who had shown no remorse, falsely accused him of rape and goaded them in court.
Mr Michels’ teenage son Sam said in a victim impact statement: ‘Ordinary people cannot begin to understand why you would do the things that you have done and how you can show no remorse for any of your actions.
‘You have taken away someone who gave so much more than you have given, cared so much more than you care, respected people and was indisputably successful throughout his life.
‘You have taken away all the lessons my Dad was yet to teach me and all the experiences he deserved as a father – like meeting his grandchildren and walking his daughter down the aisle. He talked about these things regularly and was so excited for the future.
‘To me, my Dad had the answers to everything and he was always the first person I would call for advice. He was everything to me, and I am completely and utterly lost without him.
‘Alongside us, his children, my father was also loved by our large extended family. I have struggled so much having to see my grandparents fall to pieces accepting the loss of their only son. His sister, cousins and friends are all distraught having had an angel taken from them. Losing Dad affects so many people, not just us.
‘My mother has had to take on a different level of responsibility that she shouldn’t have had. She has now had to become mum and dad while trying to pick up the pieces herself. She loved my father dearly and their relationship had stayed strong despite their divorce.
‘Sitting in court and listening to lies about my father has made me feel physically sick at times. We knew him better than anyone, and hearing the defendant accuse my father of rape was soul destroying. He was gentle and caring and would never do such a thing.
‘I have also had to experience both of the defendants laugh and smile as we enter the court room, as if they have something to be proud of. On multiple occasions while giving evidence, Mr Matovu turned to us and grinned. This only tells me about the type of person he is. His lack of empathy or respect for anyone else in unimaginable/
‘I am so proud of my father and I will continue to be until I die. He made such an impact on my life that can never be forgotten. He deserves nothing but justice for what happened to him last year.’
Matovu, 26, had hooked up with Eric Michels, 54, via Grindr in August last year.
He plied him with a fatal dose of GHB at his home in Bolton Road, Chessington, Surrey, then made off with his bank card details and other belongings.
His killer was caught after Mr Michels’ 14-year-old daughter texted her father shortly after his death, asking if he would like to go for a meal before she went away on holiday.
When he did not reply, she tried again and Matovu, impersonating victim, then replied using Mr Michels’ phone: ‘Hello hun im a little busy talk soon’, the court heard.
The unfamiliar tone of the message alerted the teenager who rang up to find out what was happening. Matovu hung up after she told him who she was – she the called in the police, who found the body and later arrested the killler.
The Old Bailey has heard Mr Michels and his wife of 23 years had divorced after he realised he was gay.
Since coming out, the victim, who worked on the leadership team of a large energy company, had a number of long-term relationships with men that had failed.
He had become lonely and began going to Soho and using Grindr to find younger men to date.
Mr Michels, who had an uncredited role in Skyfall, was one of 12 men targeted by Matovu and his lover Brandon Dunbar, 24, over a 19-month period, jurors heard.
Following an Old Bailey trial, Matovu was found guilty of businessman Mr Michels’ murder and a string of other offences.
Stephen Port was handed a whole life term for raping and murdering four young men and dumping their bodies near his home in Barking, east London, between 2014 and 2015.
Following Port’s 2016 trial, Matovu pleaded guilty to supplying mephedrone and GHB and offering to supply GHB, but denied knowing what Port planned to do with it.
In April 2017, Matovu was sentenced to 12 months community service, 150 hours of unpaid work and 40 days of drug rehabilitation.
At Matovu’s murder trial, prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC told how the defendants took advantage of Grindr hook-ups to steal property and bank details.
On the evening of August 16 last year, divorced father-of-three Mr Michels made contact with Matovu on Grindr after a night out in Soho gay bars.
Mr Michels invited him to his place in south-west London for sex, the court heard.
While there, the defendant drugged Mr Michels and took photographs of his bank cards and driver’s licence.
Matovu made off with a MacBook, mobile phone, an initialled black case, US driving licence and various cards as well as a suitcase full of bottles of alcohol.
Mr Michels’ body was discovered by his concerned family the following day in bed under a duvet.
An empty 3ml syringe without a needle attached was found on the floor beside the bed.
DNA from the victim and defendant was identified on it, as well as traces of GHB, the court heard.
Matovu, 26, had hooked up with Eric Michels, 54, via Grindr in August last year before he killed him with a fatal dose of a date rape drug. Matovu and his lover, Brandon Dunbar, 23, (right) targeted 12 men on Grindr
The couple were filmed using Michels’ card to by luxuries from a local shop after the murder
Police raided Dunbar flat and found syringes and even a blowtorch he used on one victim’s buttocks
Matovu denied murder but accepted going home with him to have consensual sex.
He denied administering GHB to Mr Michels, claiming he took it of his own free will.
A jury deliberated for 26 hours to reach guilty verdicts on all the charges against both defendants.
Matovu and his lover Dunbar were photographed by one victim’s flatmate
Members of the victim’s family in court shouted out ‘yes – the rest of your life in prison’ as Matovu looked on impassive.
Matovu and Dunbar were convicted of a string of charges including administering a noxious substance, sexual assault and theft.
Detective Inspector Mark Richards, of the Homicide and Major Crime Command, said: ‘Matovu and Dunbar had a well-rehearsed plan to take advantage of men they met through social networking sites and apps such as Grindr to steal their property. This was their overwhelming motive, rather than sexual assault. Matovu described himself in evidence as a hustler, a liar and a thief – apt words.
‘Their method in the majority of cases was to drug their victim with enough GBL to render them unconscious so they could then search their homes, selecting items of interest and photographing bank cards and personal documents for subsequent fraudulent use. They did this at their leisure, sometimes spending hours at an address.
‘But Mr Michels was different – Matovu gave him a fatal dose of GBL. Despicably, while Mr Michels lay dead or dying, Matovu raided his address of many of his belongings, leaving his devastated family to find his body the following day.
The grey car in the road contains Matovu leaving Mr Michels’ home after murdering and robbing him
Mr Michels was found dead at his home in Chessington (pictured) last summer and Gerald Matovu, from south-east London, was then arrested and charged with his murder
‘Just three days later Matovu and Dunbar targeted another man at Dunbar’s flat. When he was no longer of use to them, they dragged his prone naked body out into the street and abandoned him on a pile of rubbish bags.
‘Attending officers were quickly able to join those two events together, and enquiries then revealed a whole host of other victims. Matovu and Dunbar had done very little to cover their tracks, their only focus moving onto their next victim and what else they could steal.
‘There is every chance there are more victims out there – please have the confidence to come forward and report this, or any similar crime to us.
‘Matovu and Dunbar are to blame for what happened to these men and the crimes they committed against them. But as with any situation, there are things people can do to help protect themselves when meeting people online, such as talking as much as possible before agreeing to meet, being careful not to share too many details about yourself, telling a friend or relative what you are planning to do and being generally cautious and vigilant.
‘The Met has LGBT liaison officers available to anyone who needs crime prevention advice or support and there are variety of LGBT+ organisation and charities willing to help.’
Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of Matovu and Dunbar’s crimes, or any other similar incident, can contact police on 101, Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the charity Galop at http://www.galop.org.uk/ or via their Shoutline on 020 7704 2040.