A 30-year-old man has been found guilty of the murder of a retired accountant in a public toilet in Surrey.

It has emerged that Mark Malone also committed a hate crime in 2003 against an autistic man he thought was gay.

On February 19th stole an eight inch knife from a burger van and attacked a gay man in the public toilet, known as a meeting place for sex.

He told the court that Jeff Akers, who was gay, propositioned him for sex and he lashed out, but could not remember the attack.

Mr Akers, 50, staggered out of the toilet in Walton, Surrey, in his underpants and fell to the ground with the kitchen knife in his back on February 19th.

He was taken by air ambulance to St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey where he died. A post-mortem revealed that the cause of death was a single stab wound to the back.

A retired accountant, he lived with his partner of 22 years.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston-Heard, said after the verdict:

“This was a vicious, unprovoked homophobic attack by Mark Malone on a harmless, innocent man.

“Our thoughts are with the family who have been forced to endure a trial.

“I would like to thank my team of Surrey officers who worked diligently to prove Malone’s guilt, along with the media who greatly assisted in publicising our witness appeals, using their networks to reach potential witnesses across the country who may not otherwise have been keen to come forward.

“Murder is very rare in Surrey and this investigation has shown Surrey Police’s commitment to tackling such serious crime and bringing offenders to justice.

“I would like to add that Surrey Police has always treated any form of hate crime as a serious offence and I urge victims to report the incident to the police, no matter how minor they believe it may be.”

Malone, from Walton-on-Thames, is married with two young children. He will return to the Old Bailey for sentencing on December 5th.

It emergred during the trial that he has a conviction for attacking an autistic man who smiled at him in Truro, Cornwall in 2003.

Malone was sentenced to three months in jail. He said he thought the victim was gay.

Malone attacked another man at the same toilets in Walton just months before he murdered Mr Akers.

The public toilets are to be demolished.