Race attack: 'My lovely lad, such a gentle soul'

Mother of Liverpool teenager killed in racist attack speaks for first time of her disbelief at his death
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Gee Walker recalled the last moments she had seen the 18-year-old alive near his Liverpool home, smiling radiantly just hours before he was killed in what has been described as a racist attack.

Mrs Walker, a special-needs teacher, told of the overwhelming anger she felt that her A-level student son had been stolen from his family.

"I just thought: 'How dare they do this to my boy?' It's crazy, because my kids are lovely. I've never had to smack any of them.

"I was saying: 'Look at all these years I've brought him up. Who gave you permission to do this to him? Why did you want to harm my lovely lad?'" she said in an interview with the Daily Mail.

Anthony died eight days ago, in a killing that shocked the nation, after suffering an axe blow to the head while accompanying his girlfriend Louise Gardiner to a bus stop the previous evening.

He was just a mile from his home in the Huyton area of the city. Paul Taylor, 20, and Michael Barton, 17, the brother of Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton, appeared in court on Friday charged with his murder.

Mrs Walker, who has five other children, said that her son made time for everybody: "Anthony just had this way about him. The teachers said he would always make them feel better.

"He would stand with the geeks and drop-outs, and make friends with them. Anyone who was going to be picked on, that's the one Anthony would get drawn to. He would shadow and encourage them because he was such a gentle soul."

He was always able to win his mother over to his way of thinking. "If Anthony wants something, he'll plead his case and you can't but give into him," she said.

Mrs Walker, whose family are deeply religious, last saw her son on the night of the attack. He had agreed to stay at home and babysit for his nephew, allowing his mother to attend an evangelical church service.

While she readied herself to go out, Anthony pushed the 18-month-old to a play area, and she saw him as she drove away.

"I saw him coming, pushing the buggy, and as I drove past him I peeped the horn. I just wanted to let him know I was off. He smiled back at me. Anthony was just at the top of the road. It was raining, so he had stopped to make sure the push-chair cover was over the baby."

The next time she saw him in the early hours of the next day, he was lying in hospital, his life rapidly slipping away. Mrs Walker's estranged husband, Steve, joined the family as Anthony lay dying in the neurological centre of Walton Hospital.

He said: "I went straight to his bedside and I took hold of Anthony's hand. I was talking to him softly saying, 'Anthony, what are you playing at? Come on lad, tell me what happened, my son.'"

Anthony had been a talented basketball player who once dreamt of playing professionally. Mrs Walker yearns to hear the comforting thud of his ball on the path, which always told her he was home.

"Last Saturday, for the first time, there was no bouncing sound. That's when I really knew he was gone," she said.