The killer of gay Liverpool teenager Michael Causer has been sentenced to a minimum of 11 years in prison.

James O’Connor, 20, has been sentenced to life and must serve at least 11 and a half years before he can be considered for parole.

He pleaded guilty to murdering Mr Causer, who weighed just seven and a half stone, by kicking him to death as he slept.

Mr Causer was beaten up on July 25th, 2008. He died eight days later in hospital from severe head injuries.

In court, Mr Justice King said O’Connor had not acted out of homophobic motives, instead describing him as “ignoble” and “cowardly”.

However, he added that O’Connor had not been solely responsible for the crime.

Mr Causer’s parents, Marie and Michael Causer, said outside court: “This is another black day for Michael. It’s just pathetic.”

Michael Binsteed, 19, pleaded guilty to perverting the cause of justice and was given 34 weeks in custody, suspended for two years.

He was given a supervision order and must complete 200 hours of unpaid work within a year.

Nineteen-year-old Gavin Alker walked free from court last month after being found not guilty of the murder or manslaughter of Mr Causer.

Binsteed, when appearing as a prosecution witness, testified that Alker shouted homophobic abuse at Mr Causer as he was beaten.

Tommy McIlravey, of Liverpool’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender network, said: “If it had been considered a homophobic attack, the sentence would have started at 30 years.

“The law has failed because no one has been convicted of a hate crime. It’s second-class justice and it seems to happen all the time.

“It begs the question: what do you have to do for it to be a homophobic attack?”

Mr McIlravey commended Liverpool police for their part in the investigation, but said: “The judiciary has failed”.

A Families Fighting for Justice march has been planned for next Saturday.

The march will begin at the Anglican Cathedral at midday, then progress to the law courts.