A student was murdered "for no other reason than the colour of his skin" by a Premiership footballer's brother after being subjected to a torrent of racial abuse, a jury was told.
Anthony Walker, 18, was at a bus stop with his white girlfriend and his cousin, who had a distinctive "Afro" hairstyle, when the taunts "niggers, coons, microphone head" and "Michael Jackson" were hurled at him from a group of men, which included Michael Barton, brother of the Manchester City player Joey Barton, it was alleged at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday.
Anxious to prevent a confrontation, Mr Walker said: "We're only waiting for the bus and then we're going." After hearing the words "walk, nigger, walk", his group walked off to another bus stop - only to be pursued in a Peugeot car by Mr Barton and Paul Taylor, 20, his first cousin.
Mr Walker, his girlfriend Louise Thompson and cousin Marcus Binns, 17, were then allegedly "ambushed" in McGoldrick Park in Huyton, Merseyside, by Mr Barton, Taylor and others. Mr Walker was either falling to the ground or on the ground when the fatal blow was delivered from behind him, entering his head above the left eyebrow and penetrating 4-5cms of brain tissue. He died of injuries sustained by a single blow from a 2ft metal ice axe.
Mr Barton, 17, of Huyton, who allegedly supplied the axe and helped plan the attack, denies murder and conspiracy to cause grievous bodily harm to Mr Walker and his cousin. Taylor has admitted murdering Mr Walker by delivering the blow.
The court heard that Mr Barton telephoned his brother Joey in panic, hours after the murder. "Listen, I was there but I didn't kill him," he told him. "It was Chomper [Paul Taylor's nickname]. Chomper killed him." He admits attempting to remove the axe from Mr Walker's head before leaving the murder scene in the Peugeot car, with blood on his hands.
The men quickly transferred to a Vauxhall Vectra and drove to Dover. They then boarded a 6am ferry for Calais and drove on to Amsterdam, staying for four days until they were escorted back to Merseyside.
"Michael Barton, Paul Taylor and almost certainly others decided to get their own back on Anthony Walker and Marcus Binns," said Neil Flewitt QC.
"The fact that they armed themselves with such a vicious weapon is... a clear indication that they intended to cause serious harm. [They then] put their plan into action. [The] killing... was racially motivated."
At 11.55am on 29 July, the day of the murder, Mr Barton and Taylor had been at the scene of an attempted burglary in nearby Rainhill, the jury was told.
At 8.45pm, a witness saw Taylor scratching on a board by a pub opposite the bus stop where Mr Walker was confronted. Taylor's nickname was later found next to a swastika motif on the same board.
At around 10.30pm, Mr Walker left his home to walk to the bus stop, where his girlfriend was to take a bus home to nearby Kirkby. Mr Binns carried a single bottle of beer. Mr Walker seemed "his usual happy self" and had his arm around Ms Thompson when a witness saw them, between 10.45pm and 11pm.
They had been at the bus stop for about five minutes when Mr Binns heard the racial abuse. "He made no response to the abuse and continued to drink his bottle of beer," Mr Flewitt said.
After "sensing trouble" and moving on, Mr Walker's group found themselves on a dark, unlit path in McGoldrick Park, fleeing the Peugeot which had pursued them at speed with no lights on. Mr Walker's girlfriend was so frightened she asked him to walk between her and the bushes. But unknown to her, four young men were waiting there.
She and Mr Binns both fled after the assailants pounced and when Mr Binns was eventually driven back to the scene by a local family he found Mr Walker's body on the path, the axe in his skull.
The impact of the blow was "catastrophic", causing the disintegration of his brain to a depth of 6-7cm. Lacerations to Mr Walker's hand suggested he had attempted to fend off the axe before he was struck.
The jury was told of a number of letters written by Mr Barton on remand, three of which concluded with the same short poem: "1, 2, 3: now we're trippin' off an 'e'. We jump on the microphone with a shout going out to the Pete Daley." Mr Flewitt suggested "microphone" may be repetition of the initial term of racist abuse.
Mr Barton first told police he was threatened by Mr Walker's group, prompting the pursuit, but has since said that Taylor alone had the altercation. The trial continues today.Reuse content