Race Attack: 'We ran, but my cousin Anthony did not get away. I've got to live with it'

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The Independent Online

Marcus Binns, 17, said that Mr Walker was simply not fast enough to get away from the gang of white youths, one of whom embedded an axe in his head.

He spoke last night as police named one of the suspects as the brother of a Premiership footballer. Michael Barton, the 18-year-old brother of Manchester City midfielder Joey Barton, and Paul Taylor, aged 20, were being hunted in connection with the killing in Huyton, Merseyside, on Friday night. The force believes the two suspects may have gone abroad, possibly to Amsterdam.

Last night detectives arrested two men, aged 26 and 29, both from Huyton, in connection with Mr Walker's murder. Earlier yesterday, the police arrested a 17-year-old suspect and released another, aged 18, who was arrested on Sunday.

A bouquet left by Marcus at the scene of the murder illustrated the guilt he feels about escaping while his cousin was left behind. "I'm sorry this had to happen. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you. I'm sorry," its message stated. Mr Walker's white girlfriend, Louise, who also managed to escape, remains too traumatised to speak.

Marcus, who was interviewed by detectives yesterday, indicated that a group of racists who launched an initial verbal attack followed Mr Walker's group as they made a short cut through McGoldrick Park to avoid confrontation and find an alternative bus stop for the girlfriend to get home to nearby Kirkby.

"We turned around and the men were stood behind us," he said. "We were all frightened. We just ran and ran, but Anthony didn't get away. We asked someone for help and they took us back to where it happened, but just left us. We got there too late. I have got to live with that for the rest of my life."

Marcus's bouquet was part of a large shrine to Anthony Delano Walker, a gifted basketball player, committed Christian and aspiring lawyer, which is emerging beneath a chestnut tree at the St Mark's entrance to the park, where he died.

The murder has echoes of the murder in April 1993 of the 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in London by racists. The bungled investigation by the Metropolitan Police exposed the force's " institutionalised racism". But Merseyside's chief constable, Bernard Hogan-Howe, insisted that his force's own response to Mr Walker's murder would be different.

"It is a disgrace that a young man who acted responsibly by walking his girlfriend to a bus stop at night has been brutally murdered," Mr Hogan-Howe said. "It is even worse when you think that the only reason for this attack was the victim's colour."

Mr Walker's uncle, Shiloh Delroy Binns ­ a member of the student's mother's large Jamaican family ­ arrived at the park yesterday morning, clutching Mr Walker's Bible. "Anthony was aspiring to be a lawyer," he said. "He was going to be our symbol to say to the world that the Binns family could produce something good. He was one of the good guys."

He disclosed how Mr Walker's mother, Gee Verona, 49, a teacher of children with learning difficulties, was playing a crucial role in preventing young members of the family taking reprisals for the murder against a family they suspect of involvement.

As members of the family gathered in a gazebo at Mr Walker's home in nearby Mellor Close on Sunday, "some of the brothers were taking a war council and saying we've got to kill, we should take three of [the racists] for this, " said Mr Binns Snr, a gospel preacher. But Mrs Verona was the voice of reason. "She was saying, 'don't do anything to this family; keep it down'. Even now, she's the one [of us who has] wisdom," the uncle said.

The family ­ which traces its roots to St Thomas, a small town between Kingston and Ramble in Jamaica ­ has been resident in Britain for 34 years. Mrs Verona, one of eight siblings, has always been considered the family's leading light, gaining a teaching qualification at the Liverpool Hope University.

Liverpool's response to the murder of Mr Walker was laden with emotion yesterday. The shrine grew to include three Arsenal football shirts (Anthony was a fan), a signed basketball from team-mates and many candles. A bouquet left by one of his teachers, Joanne Martin, remembered "a perfect pupil, a perfect person [who] has been taken. I will never forget your smile. "

A fuller picture also emerged of Anthony's close relationship with his 14-year-old brother Daniel, with whom he shared a room at Mellor Close and played basketball. At 5ft 7ins, Anthony was not one of Liverpool's tallest basketball players, but in his favourite position as net guard he was a formidable opponent. He regularly played for scratch teams on Saturday mornings in Kirkby, where his girlfriend lives.

His love of life was also captured in the website created with his schoolfriend Jamie Sullivan, 18, in which he described his passions and influences. The website provides an insight into Mr Walker's passion for dancing, DJ-ing and freestyle rap singing. The personal biography he wrote for the website revealed that his nicknames included Cassa ­ short for Casanova.

Mr Sullivan said Anthony aspired to study law at university in London. " He had relatives in London and we all visited the Millennium Dome together and had a great time," he said.

Superintendent Ali Dizaei, of the National Black Police Association, said the attack proved that black youngsters still faced the threat of racist attacks. He said: "It is an unequivocal indication that the cancer of racism is still here 10 years after the Lawrence inquiry. Unfortunately, young, innocent black children are subject to it and I think it is a sad day. "

Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, said yesterday: "The senseless murder of such a promising young man is a loss to society, and our thoughts and prayers are with Anthony's loved ones for whom the loss of such a dear child can know no comparison."

Speaking on behalf of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, she added: "All the staff and trustees of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust offer their deepest sympathies and condolences to Anthony Walker's family during this time of great anguish and loss."

Stephen Lawrence's friend, Duwayne Brooks, who was present at the Eltham bus-stop when the A-level student was attacked, said that he was sickened when he heard about Mr Walker's killing. "I was in shock. You don't expect anything like is to happen again in this country. There are places in Britain that have changed since 1993, but racism is still there and always will be, just like there will always be ignorant, racist people," he said.

But he felt public expectation and scrutiny of the police investigation and outcome had been heightened by the Macpherson inquiry into Mr Lawrence's death.

"No one would care before, but now no one wants to be known and labelled as a racist. I don't know if things have changed in the police ... I have no doubt heads will roll if the high level of incompetence that was show in Stephen's investigation occurs in this investigation.

"If the people that did it are taken to court and convicted, then it will be an awful, one-off incident. But if the police don't catch them and they get away with it, it will have a very negative effect on society," he said.

Mr Brooks, who is now an engineer and lives in London, hoped that Mr Walker's friends and family would receive appropriate support, something he felt he was not forthcoming after Mr Lawrence's death.

"Obviously, the parents are grieving now, but the friends who went to get help for him and saw him lying there need support too. It affects everybody," he said.