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Stephen Port made up a story to a concerned neighbour about his second murder victim to try to cover his tracks, an inquest has heard.
The serial killer was found guilty of murdering four men - Anthony Walgate, 23, Gabriel Kovari, 22, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25 - in east London between June 2014 and September 2015.
Port, now 46, was sentenced to a whole life order after a trial at the Old Bailey in 2016.
The long-awaited inquest into the deaths is examining whether police made mistakes in their investigation which could have cost lives by failing to stop Port sooner.
His neighbour in 2014, Ryan Edwards, told the inquest on Thursday that he had become concerned about Mr Kovari after meeting him in Port's flat just days before the murder.
Mr Edwards said Port had invited him over to meet his "new Slovakian flat mate" (Mr Kovari) on 24 August in 2014.
The following day, Mr Kovari told Mr Edwards that Port "is not the person you think he is, he's not a nice man", prompting Mr Edwards to offer him shelter at his home nearby.
But Mr Kovari did not reply to Mr Edwards's follow-up messages.
He was found dead on 28 August in a secluded corner of St Margaret's Churchyard, near Port's flat in Barking, east London.
Two days earlier, Mr Edwards was contacted by Port saying Mr Kovari had moved out.
Port followed this by asking Mr Edwards if he had seen Mr Kovari around, floating the idea he moved to Spain, before texting him on 11 September to say the young man had died on a flight abroad.
In one text, shown to inquest jurors, Port wrote: "Hey neighbour, have just heard sum (sic) sad news from one of Gabriel's friends that Gab did return to Spain to be with his bf (boyfriend) and he died on arrival from an infection.
"His (sic) being buried in slovkya (sic). Please don't put on FB (Facebook) or mention to anyone else as his family are in bits."
Mr Edwards, 42, said he found Port's story to be suspicious, but did not have any reason to disbelieve him.
In fact, Mr Edwards was unaware that Mr Kovari had died on 28 August until over a year later because he was away that month.
He also told inquest jurors that Port had a "voracious appetite" for meeting "very young" men, and had a "strange" obsession with children's toys.
He said killer Port spent time with "vulnerable" boys to such an extent that he considered the softly-spoken chef might have "paedophile tendencies".
Mr Edwards said he also had concerns about Port's drug use, but was reassured by the predator that his interest in young males was legal, and that the drugs were for personal use only.
Port, now 46, was jailed five years ago after being convicted of murder by plying four young, gay men with fatal doses of the drug GHB, as well as a number of rapes.
Mr Edwards said he would have reported concerns about Port's young companions and about drug use if there was any evidence of criminal activity, as he had done with a previous friend.