Accused tells court he tried to help black teenager as he lay dying

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The Independent Online

A youth accused of the racist murder of a black teenager has told a court that he tried to help the stricken victim and that he does not have "a problem" with black people.

Michael Barton, the 17-year-old brother of Manchester City footballer Joey Barton, said he made "gentle" attempts to remove an axe which was embedded in the head of Anthony Walker at Huyton, Merseyside.

"He was lying there. He had something out of his head. I tried to help him," Mr Barton told a Preston Crown Court jury, sitting in Liverpool. "I felt sick and in shock. When I couldn't move it I ran away back to the car. There was blood on the top of my right hand. I kept my hand in front of me in case blood dripped on to my clothes." Mr Barton told the jury he had then said to Mr Taylor: "What have you fucking done?"

Mr Taylor did not reply immediately but as he was driving away, he said: "I can't believe it," several times.

Mr Taylor, who is Mr Barton's cousin, has already pleaded guilty to murder and admitted he swung the axe. Mr Barton, whom the prosecution alleges supplied the weapon and helped plan the attack, denies murder and conspiracy to commit GBH on Mr Walker's cousin.

Mr Barton said he became involved in the altercation after Mr Taylor told him: "We're going for a fight with two black lads." They jumped over the wall and were walking in McGoldrick Park, Huyton, when they "bumped into" Mr Walker, his girlfriend and cousin, Marcus Binns. Mr Barton claims he chased Mr Binns and found Mr Walker dead when he returned.

The story Mr Barton told in court was different from the original story he told police, the court was told. The jury heard that Mr Taylor had a string of previous convictions, dating back to March 1999, for offences including burglary, battery and carrying a bladed article. Mr Barton, who left school at 14 and worked sporadically in a warehouse and as a roofer, has no previous convictions but had joined Mr Taylor on stealing sprees. The trial continues today.