Racist 'thugs' who murdered teenager given life sentences

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The two men who murdered the teenager Anthony Walker received jail terms totalling more than 40 years for what their trial judge described as "poisonous racist thuggery".

Paul Taylor, 20, will spend at least 23 years and eight months behind bars for smashing an ice axe into the 18-year-old student's head after ambushing him in a park in Huyton, Merseyside, in July.

His cousin Michael Barton, 17, brother of the Manchester City footballer Joey Barton, will serve at least 17 years and eight months for murder. He supplied the weapon and provoked an exchange with Mr Walker, who was standing at a bus stop with his girlfriend Louise Thompson and cousin, Marcus Binns.

Sentencing the pair, Mr Justice Leveson said that they were guilty of "racist thuggery of a type that is poisonous to any civilised society".

He told them: "For some reason which I am sure was related to the colour of their skin, you both appear to have been affronted by the presence of Anthony Walker and Marcus Binns on the street and determined to follow them by car, to wait for them and to waylay them in a terrifying ambush. In spite of your youth, deterrent sentences are vital.

"You took from Anthony Walker his most precious possession, that is to say his life and all it held for him. He was a young man of enormous promise, lost in a moment. You have damaged forever the lives of those who loved him."

The judge told Barton, who was convicted on Wednesday, that although he did not wield the axe, he was jointly responsible for the murder. "You knew what you intended to do as you drove searching out your quarries and you crept into the park with evil on your mind," he said.

Mr Walker, a devout Christian, did not retaliate to Barton's shouts of "niggers" and "coons" and his group walked away. When the ambush happened minutes later, his cousin and girlfriend escaped but he was attacked by Barton, who struggled to get the better of him. Barton shouted: "Get him off me!" and Taylor struck him from behind with the axe.

Taylor, who spent most of the hearing with his head bowed, showed no reaction as he was led from the dock. Barton also showed no reaction but nodded to members of his family as he was taken down. His parents, who had attended every day of his trial, were not present.

Taylor could have received a tariff of 30 years, but was given credit for his guilty plea, youth and limited intelligence. The judge also accepted he did not start the fight, and did not set out intending to kill but to cause serious harm.

Because Barton is a juvenile, the legal starting point was 12 years and there was no automatic doubling for racial motivation, as was the case with Taylor.

He, too, was given credit for his youth and lack of intelligence, for not inflicting the fatal blow and not setting out with the intention to kill. The offence was aggravated, however, by race- hate and premeditation.

The judge was told that Taylor was "horrified" at what he had done, and had written letters of apology to Anthony's family. He said he was using drugs, particularly cannabis, heavily at the time of the attack.

Outside court, Mr Walker's mother, Gee, said she admired Taylor for showing remorse. She said: "Surely his mum must have instilled some goodness in him for him to accept he's done something wrong. I hope and pray he takes this time to reflect on what he's done, what both of them have done."