A serial killer who targeted gay men has been executed in Florida.

Gary Ray Bowles, 57, was executed by lethal injection at 10.58pm (3.58am Irish time).

In a final written statement, Bowles apologised for the "pain and suffering" he had caused, stating: "I never wanted this to be my life. You don't wake up one day and decide to become a serial killer."

Bowles was dubbed the "I-95 killer" after being linked to a half-dozen murders along the interstate highway of that name, a major artery along the US east coast.

Late last night, the US Supreme Court rejected defence motions calling for a stay of execution.

According to court records, Bowles had a disturbing and chaotic childhood.

His father died before he was born, and his mother remarried several times, twice to men who abused Bowles.

He started taking drugs and drinking by age 11, and at 13 he nearly killed his second stepfather, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

A Washington Post profile, written in 1994 while police were desperately searching for the suspected serial killer, described Bowles as a "rugged, handsome and charming" young man who had left home as a teenager and turned to prostitution to survive.

He had a long arrest record, including for robbery, and spent a few years in prison in the 1980s after he assaulted and raped a girlfriend.

In 1994, Bowles was captured in the northern Florida city of Jacksonville and charged with the murder of Walter Jamelle Hinton.

Bowles subsequently confessed to the other murders - crimes that had been linked in part by the killer's habit of stuffing rags or other objects down his victims' throats.

He received a death sentence in 1999.

Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, signed the execution order earlier this summer.

Florida is one of 29 US states that still carries out capital punishment and inmates state are allowed to choose death by injection or by electrocution.

A private citizen is paid $150 to serve as executioner, according to the state's website.