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Couple 'targeted gay men in Grindr fraud plot', court hears

PUBLISHED: 13:04 21 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:53 21 May 2019

The trial is took place at the Old Bailey. Picture: PA

The trial is took place at the Old Bailey. Picture: PA

PA Archive/PA Images

An actor was killed by an overdose of chemsex drug GHB after hooking up with a fraudster on dating app Grindr, a court has heard.

Eric Michels, 54, who had an uncredited role in the James Bond film Skyfall, was allegedly murdered by Gerald Matovu, 25, at his home in Chessington in August last year.

Over 19 months, Matovu, of Southwark, and his lover Brandon Dunbar, 23, of Forest Gate, took advantage of 12 gay men, it was claimed.

Opening their trial, Jonathan Rees QC said: "The prosecution say that the defendants, often working together, took advantage of hook-ups, dates, arranged with other gay men through apps, such as Grindr, to steal their property and take photographs of their bank cards and other identification documents for the purposes of fraud.

"In the course of their activities, a number of their targets were drugged to facilitate these dishonest activities and one of those, a 54-year-old male, was killed by an overdose of a substance called gamma hydroxybutyrate - GHB.

"During the 19-month period you are concerned with, it appears that the two defendants were close friends and involved in an intimate relationship.

"The prosecution evidence in this case focuses on 12 gay men, who met up with one or both of the defendants with a view to having sex, and ended up being the victims of their criminal enterprise."

Nine of the men met both defendants while the remaining three only met Matovu, the court was told.

Ten of them had property stolen during encounters and all but one had photographs taken of their bank cards and other personal documents for later use in fraud, jurors heard.

Eight men were drugged in order to knock them out, five of which had their drinks spiked and one had drugs injected into his anus without his consent, Mr Rees said.

Two men had property stolen or photographs taken of documents by Matovu while they were showering with Dunbar, it was alleged.

One had photos taken of cards in his wallet after he took off his trousers to have sex, jurors heard.

Another was targeted while he was making a cup of tea, Mr Rees said.

Matovu denies murder, six counts of administering a poison or noxious substance to endanger life, one count of assault by penetration and one count of causing actual bodily harm.

He is further charged with five counts of possession of articles for use in fraud, seven counts of theft and possession of a controlled drug of class C.

Dunbar has pleaded not guilty to five counts of administering a poison with intent to endanger life, one count of assault by penetration and one count of ABH.

He is further charged with seven counts of theft, five counts of possession of articles for use in fraud, two counts of fraud and one count of unlawfully retaining a wrongful credit.

The trial continues

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