A 17-year-old youth and his 20-year-old cousin were given long jail sentences on Thursday for the murder of Anthony Walker, a black student bludgeoned to death with an axe in what police said was a racist killing.Michael Barton, 17, younger brother of Manchester City player Joey Barton, had denied killing the 18-year-old college student in Huyton, near Liverpool, but was found guilty on Wednesday. His cousin, Paul Taylor, admitted the murder before the trial was due to start in Liverpool last month.
On Thursday the judge said Barton must serve 17 years and 8 months in jail, while Taylor was jailed for at least 23 years and 8 months.A spokesman for Merseyside Police said after the murder: "this was a totally unprovoked and racially motivated attack."Walker's mother Gee said after Barton's trial she was satisfied with the verdict and would forgive her son's killers.
"At the point of death, Jesus said 'I forgive them because they don't know what they do.' I've got to forgive them," she told reporters.Police said Walker, a devout Christian and keen sports fan, was escorting his white girlfriend Louise Thompson, 17, to a bus stop when he was set upon by a group of youths.The attack came just minutes after he had been taunted with racist abuse.
Both Taylor and Barton fled the country following the attack but later returned to Liverpool following a televised appeal from Barton's brother.During his trial, Michael Barton said he was not a racist and denied that the axe used to kill Walker was his.Walker's killing shocked the local community and attracted massive media attention, evoking memories of the 1993 high-profile racist killing of Stephen Lawrence in southeast London.
Both Lawrence and Walker were attacked by thugs as they waited at bus stops and both were strong students with high aspirations. Walker wanted to be a lawyer, Lawrence an architect., reports Reuters. I.L.