The former friend of a serial killer has told a court of his "voracious appetite" for meeting "very young" men and his “strange” obsession with children’s toys.

Stephen Port was jailed for life in 2016 after being convicted of four drug-related murders of young, gay men carried out over a 16-month period.

His neighbour, Ryan Edwards, said drug-rape killer Port spent time with “vulnerable” boys to such an extent that he considered the softly-spoken chef might have "paedophile tendencies".

But Mr Edwards said he was reassured by the predator that his interest in young males was legal, and that the drug paraphernalia around his flat was for personal use only.

Port, now 46, was jailed after he was found to have plied four young, gay men with fatal doses of the drug GHB, as well carried out a number of rapes.

The body of his first victim, 23-year-old Anthony Walgate, is thought to have potentially lay propped up against a wall for more than a day before being found.

Gabriel Kovari, 22, one of Port's victims (

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Jack Taylor, another of the drug-rape killer's victims (

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Inquests into the four deaths in Barking, east London, which are being held yards from where Port lived and dumped his victims' bodies, are examining whether police actions could have stopped the 6ft 5in serial killer earlier.

Mr Edwards told inquest jurors he struck up a friendship with Port due to them being neighbours.

They had also both been members of Barking's LGBT community, Mr Edwards said.

He said their friendship was strictly platonic, and that Port would frequently invite him over to meet his new partner, something which occasionally gave Mr Edwards cause for concern.

An aerial image issued by the Metropolitan Police showing the spots where bodies were dumped by Stephen Port during his 16-month killing spree (

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"My slight concern with Stephen Port was sometimes the guys he would introduce me to were very young - 16, 17 sometimes, very close to the age of consent,” he told the inquest jury.

"Often there were difficult circumstances, broken homes, needing somewhere to stay, vulnerable.

"I was wondering if he was bordering on paedophile tendencies, but I didn't have any evidence."

Mr Edwards went on to say that Port had a “voracious appetite for meeting guys”.

“I was always astonished at how he was able to meet so many, he wasn't exactly 'Mr Personality'.

Daniel Whitworth, 21, was killed by Port during his warped spree (

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Port's first victim, Anthony Walgate (

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"That was slightly strange,” Mr Edwards said.

He also described being invited to Port's flat one evening to meet his "new guy", only to find the male seemingly unable to speak and drugs paraphernalia on the coffee table.

He said: "I did ask Stephen about it and he reassured me it was for his own personal use and reassured me not to worry.

"Rightly or wrongly, drugs are very prevalent on the gay scene, I don't see it as my place to police that."

St Margaret's churchyard in Barking, east London, where the bodies of Gabriel Kovari, 22, and Daniel Whitworth, 21, were found dead by the same dog walker three weeks apart (

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Mr Edwards said he would have reported concerns about Port's young companions and about drug use - as he had done with a previous friend - if there was any evidence of criminal activity.

He also described how Port loved playing with Transformers toys, specifically the ones designed for children.

"(It was) strange for a grown man," Mr Edwards said, "but I took Stephen for his quirks, and there were many."

Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were all found dead near Port's flat during a 16-month period between June 2014 and September 2015.

The inquests continue.

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