A serial killer’s drug dealer who targeted victims through gay dating apps has been found guilty of murdering a businessman with an overdose of GHB. An Old Bailey jury convicted Gerald Matovu, 26, of killing Eric Michels, 54, who was found dead at his south-west London home on 18 August.
The court heard the pair met in central London through the Grindr app before taking a cab back to Mr Michel’s house. Matovu had previously admitted selling GHB to murderer Stephen Port. Port was given a whole-life term for the murders of four young men he poisoned with lethal doses of the substance and raped after meeting them on Grindr.
Matovu, of Southwark, south London, and his co-defendant Brandon Dunbar, 24, of Forest Gate, east London, were convicted of a string of charges including administering a noxious substance, assault by penetration and theft. Prosecutor Jonathan Rees QC said the charges related to 12 gay men who met one or both of the defendants for the purposes of sex, but ended up as victims.
The court heard Mr Michels, an executive at energy company SSE, met Matovu in the early hours of 17 August. The pair went back to the businessman’s home in Chessington, where he was given a fatal dose of GHB, a drug used in so-called chemsex but also linked to instances of date-rape. While his victim was incapacitated, Matovu took photos of Mr Michels’ bank cards, driving licence and various passwords.
That evening Mr Michels’ 14-year-old daughter sent him a text but received no response, the court heard. After a follow-up message the next day, she received the “totally uncharacteristic” response of: “Hello hun im a little busy talk soon”. That led her to calling her father’s phone, but after an unknown male answered and hung up when she said who was calling, she and her mother went to Mr Michels’ home and found him motionless in bed.
An empty syringe without a needle attached, which contained DNA from both Matovu and Mr Michels and traces of GHB, was found on the floor beside the bed. Matovu denied administering the drug to his victim, claiming he had taken it of his own will.
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As the guilty verdict was returned on Matovu’s murder charge, Mr Michels’ family shouted “yes – rest of your life in prison”. Mr Michels had three children with his ex-wife, from whom he divorced in 2010 after coming out as gay. He had once trained as an actor and still made occasional film appearances, including in the James Bond film Skyfall.
Det Insp Mark Richards, said Matovu and Dunbar had “a well-rehearsed plan to take advantage of men they met through 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”, he said.
“Their method in the majority of cases was to drug their victim with enough GBL [which is converted into GBH in the body] 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.”
Matovu was also convicted of six counts of administering a noxious substance, seven thefts, six counts of having articles for fraud, assault by penetration, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and possessing the drug GBL.
Dunbar was found guilty of three counts of administering a noxious substance, five thefts, six counts of having articles for fraud, two frauds, assault by penetration, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and dishonestly retaining wrongful credit.
The pair were remanded in custody for sentencing on 5 September.