Murder of Anthony Walker
|Died||30 July 2005 (aged 18)|
Liverpool, Merseyside, England
|Cause of death||Blood loss from axe wound to head|
Anthony Walker (21 February 1987 – 30 July 2005) was a Black British student of Jamaican descent who was murdered with an ice axe by Michael Barton (brother of footballer Joey Barton) and Barton's cousin Paul Taylor, in an unprovoked, racially motivated attack on the night of 29–30 July 2005 in Huyton, Merseyside. Walker was eighteen years old and was in his second year of A-levels. He lived with his parents, Gee Walker and Steve Walker, his two sisters and one brother.
Anthony Walker spent the evening of 29 July 2005 at home with his girlfriend Louise Thompson, babysitting his nephew. At 11 p.m., the couple left the house and walked to the bus stop along with Walker's cousin Marcus Binns. There, they encountered Michael Barton, who shouted racial abuse at Walker and Binns. As Walker, Thompson and Binns walked to another bus stop, near McGoldrick Park, Barton and his old friend Paul Taylor followed them in a car and drove to the park, ambushing them when they reached it. Binns and Thompson managed to escape and ran away to get help, while Walker was fatally wounded when Taylor hit him in the head with an ice axe, which got lodged in his skull and left him brain dead. He was taken to Whiston Hospital and then to the Walton Centre, where he died at 5:25 a.m.
By the next morning, Barton and Taylor had fled to Amsterdam. When police named them as suspects, Barton's brother, footballer Joey Barton, appealed for them to return to the UK and turn themselves in. They flew back to Liverpool on 3 August and were arrested and charged with Walker's murder. Their trial took place between November and December, and on 1 December, they were convicted of the murder. Passing life sentences on Taylor and Barton, with minimum terms of 23 years and eight months for Taylor and 17 years and eight months for Barton, Lord Justice Leveson said that the cousins had perpetrated a "terrifying ambush" and a "racist attack of a type poisonous to any civilised society".
Three other people were later found guilty of helping Barton and Taylor flee to the Netherlands before their eventual arrest. On 10 May 2006 Robert Williams was convicted of providing money and booking a hotel room for the pair. He was sentenced to two years and four months. Paul Morson was sentenced to 11 months in prison for providing a getaway car. Tracy Garner admitted assisting an offender and received an 11-month suspended sentence and 50 hours of community service.
Although they drew frequent comparisons, many denied that there were similarities between Walker's killing and that of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. One such critic was Labour MP Edward O'Hara, who stated that, although there was a "certain surface comparison", Walker's killing was "random, exceptional and representative of absolutely nothing".
Walker's mother explained her attitude towards her son's killers, saying "I have to forgive them. I can't feel anger and hatred, because that is what killed my son". However, Walker's girlfriend Louise, who was present on the night of his murder, said she never would forgive them adding, "I hate them for what they have done. Anthony and I shared something special. Now he has been taken away from me by those two evil young men. I still feel that he (Anthony Walker) is around. Yesterday, I sent Anthony a text and just told him he (Barton) had been found guilty. It seemed the natural thing to do."
Walker's murder and the subsequent trial of the perpetrators received a huge amount of media coverage in the UK, with a media pack congregating at John Lennon Airport awaiting the return of the accused. His funeral was broadcast live on television and the BBC ran a special Real Story programme about the crime. Such prominent coverage contrasted sharply with that given to similar cases with ethnic minority perpetrators and white victims, such as the murder of Ross Parker, a 17 year old also killed while walking with his girlfriend. The BBC noted "stark" parallels between the two cases, admitting they had "underplayed" the Parker story, later also admitting to similar failings in their coverage of the murder of Kriss Donald.  Sunday Times journalist Brendan Montague highlighted similar disparities in newspaper coverage between the Walker case and others, noting "an almost total boycott of stories involving the white victims of attacks" whereas "cases involving black and minority ethnic victims are widely reported". Montague also contrasted the lengthy sentences given to Walker's murders with comparable cases involving white victims, highlighting concern "that racist attacks against whites and non-whites are treated differently in the courts".
Anthony Walker Law Scholarship
On 2 April 2008, the Crown Prosecution Service announced a legal scholarship in Walker's memory. The scheme will offer one place in CPS Merseyside to a trainee solicitor who wants to become a fully fledged solicitor or barrister. It is open to any black or ethnic minority person who has secured or intends to apply for a place to study the LPC or BPTC full-time.
|Wikinews has related news: Anthony Walker murdered in racial attack in Liverpool, England|
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