A local councillor has questioned the attitudes of the people of Merseyside after a jury acquitted a man who admitted assaulting a gay teenager.
Gavin Alker, 19, was cleared of the murder and manslaugher of Michael Causer at Liverpool Crown Court last Friday.
A jury accepted Alker had acted in “self-defence” and that his accomplice James O’Connor was responsible for the murder. Mr O’Connor pleaded guilty to the charge.
At an LGBT community meeting on Tuesday Councillor Steve Radford, who is gay, said:
“The question has to be asked whether the 10-2 jury not-guilty verdict into Gavin Alker means Merseyside society thinks it’s acceptable to beat up gay people?
“Because, if the evidence was so clear and the people involved acknowledge their part in the attack, we need to ask if the real problem is in Merseyside society.”
There was a protest on Sunday outside the Crown Court just days after Alker walked free. More than 100 people attended.
Michael’s mother Marie told the Liverpool Daily Post she is ready to launch a private prosecution against Alker:
“I feel completely betrayed by the justice system,” she said.
“My son, my kind hearted son, was portrayed in court to be a thug. Judge King portrayed Michael as a thug.
“Michael was seven and a half stone, he couldn’t have hurt a fly.
“He was dragged out of his bed at night. I am determined to fight this for him. I have to.”
Mr Causer, 18, was attacked at the Huyton home of his friend Michael Binsteed’s grandmother.
After a 999 call he was found by paramedics in the street on Friday 25th July.
Despite surgery to try to reduce swelling on his brain, Michael Causer died at 2:30pm on Saturday 2nd August.
James O’Connor, formerly of Huyton, but now of Runcorn, admitted murdering Mr Causer but denies it was motivated by homophobia.
Binsteed, 18, of Evelyn Avenue, Prescot, admitted perverting the course of justice. They are both awaiting sentencing.
Appearing as a prosecution witness, Binsteed told the court that O’Connor and Alker kicked and punched Mr Causer in the head as he lay sleeping after an all-night drinking session.
He testified that Alker shouted homophobic abuse at Mr Causer as they beat him.
O’Connor and Binsteed then decided to dump Mr Causer in the street by carrying him over a fence.
Binsteed later called an ambulance after seeing Mr Causer bleeding profusely from the nose and mouth, but told police the victim was attacked in the street by three random men.
Binsteed told the court he lied because he is scared of O’Connor and Alker.
Alker testified he had acted in self-defence and was unaware Mr Causer was gay.
Binsteed and another witness were also present at the house, and both told the jury that they witnessed Alker brutally beat Causer and aim homophobic abuse at him.
Matthew Fox of Liverpool’s LGBT Network was shocked by the verdict:
“As someone who has followed this case closely from the beginning, I have to say I am at a loss as to what to do now,” he said.
“I just didn’t believe a not guilty verdict was possible in this case given the weight of evidence against Gavin Alker.”
Prosecutor Richard Pratt QC alleged that Gavin Alker hit Causer with a hard back book while the victim was sleeping, then proceeded to kick and punch him, used a cigarette lighter to burn hairs on his leg and threatened to rip his body piercings out with a knife.
From the beginning of the case Merseyside Police treated it as a homophobic attack, and Mr Pratt QC claimed that Alker aimed a tirade of homophobic abuse at Michael Causer whilst he was attacking him, such as “you little queer faggot” and “he’s a little queer, he deserves it.”