Gang kicked boy to death 'because he had an English accent'

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The Independent Online
A HEARTBROKEN father last night spoke of his anger as he claimed his son was kicked to death by three Scottish schoolboys because of his English accent.

And he told how his family, torn apart by the killing, was angry that the culprits were not convicted of murder, but admitted a lesser charge of culpable homicide.

Mark Ayton, 19, was killed after what began as a lager- fuelled scuffle between teenagers in an affluent commuter suburb on the outskirts of Edinburgh last November.

Within a few moments of senseless, inexplicable violence, Mark was dead.

His head had been kicked repeatedly, the imprints of his attackers' bootlaces still on his face.

His father, Malcolm, said: "Mark was a happy-go-lucky lad, a nice person and good fun to be with. He had never been in trouble with the police and it seems his only crime was that he had an English accent.

"He was born in Paisley, but because we lived in England for such a long time he picked up the accent. But he was Scottish through and through."

Iain Wheldon, 17, Graham Purves, 17, and Ross Gravestock, 16, all from Balerno, pleaded guilty to the charge of culpable homicide and will be sentenced in two weeks' time.

His killers were all only 16 at the time of the killing - the sons of a police chief inspector, a managing director and a senior civil servant.

Evidence emerged during the seven-day trial that the teenagers, whose murder trial was halted when they admitted culpable homicide, shouted anti-English abuse before the fight. Mr Ayton, a 46-year-old tax inspector, who lives with his wife Jean, 47, and other son Paul, 21, in Balerno, near Edinburgh, said: "These boys should have been convicted of murder and the only sentence appropriate for what they did is life."