Two men who pleaded guilty last month to murdering a gay barman on Clapham Common, face a minimum of 30 years in prison when they are sentenced later today.
Thomas Pickford, 25, and Scott Walker, 33, both of no fixed address admitted killing Jody Dobrowski in October 2005 after earlier denying the charge.
Mr Dobrowski, 24, assistant manager at Bar Risa Jongleurs, in Camden, was found unconscious in south London last year and died in hospital with head, neck and facial injuries.
The former Biology student’s injuries made him so unrecognisable that he had to be identified by his fingerprints.
Unemployed Pickford had initially admitted being involved in the attack and alleged Walker had stuffed a sock and shoe into the victim’s mouth.
Walker, a decorator, refused to answer police questions at first, but forensic tests on blood found on Mr Dubrowski’s shoes confirmed the attack.
Witnesses claimed to have heard the men shouting homophobic insults as the assault took place.
Crispin Aylett, prosecuting, suggested 30 years should be the minimum starting point for such an “appalling” crime.
He said: “This was a murder aggravated by sexual orientation. I do not think it is disputed, on the defendants’ part, that is the case.
“Both were involved in a premeditated plan to attack a gay man. There was no premeditation to kill him but the attack quickly increased in ferocity.
“We say both men were involved as principals. We say there was a shared intent to kill, from the nature of the assault and the evidence of an eyewitness.”
Police at the time were tying to find links between the murder and homophobic attacks in the area known for cruising.
District Crown Prosecutor at the Old Bailey, Jaswant Narwal, said: “The murder of Jody Dobrowski was vicious and senseless. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) treated this case as a homophobic killing from the beginning. In our view Pickford and Walker attacked Jody in such a brutal fashion simply because of his sexuality and he was a completely innocent victim of their extreme violence.
“In any case, where there is a proven homophobic element, the CPS will not hesitate to bring this to the attention of the court.”