A teenager who killed a gay man after subjecting him to homophobic abuse has been sentenced to two and a half years in a young offenders’ institute.

In passing sentence on David Smith, now 20, Judge Brian Barker said the attack had not been motivated by homophobia, despite evidence that Smith and three friends had earlier that day shouted anti-gay taunts and spat at ex-lorry driver Ronald Dixon, 61.

The incident happened in Charlton, south London, in May last year.

At the trial, held last month at the Old Bailey, Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter, admitting that he punched Mr Dixon in the face, causing him to hit his head on the pavement.

Mr Dixon died of head injuries.

The judge said that he was not treating the manslaughter as homophobic, telling Smith he had been immature, aggressive and he had preyed on an older man.

“He was no match for you,” Judge Barker said. “This was a gratuitous and wholly unjustified act of violence.”

Smith’s defence argued that he was not homophobic and the taunts and violence were unrelated.

Derek Munn, Stonewall’s director of public affairs, commented: “One in five lesbian and gay people have experienced a homophobic hate crime or incident in the last three years.

“Following this case and the recent verdict on the murder of Michael Causer, we hope the criminal justice system will take seriously homophobic attitudes or intent on the part of those who commit crime.”