LIVERPOOL’S only openly gay councillor last night questioned whether the not-guilty verdict in the killing of Michael Causer meant Merseyside now accepted gay attacks.
Speaking at a special meeting of Liverpool’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender network, Cllr Steve Radford pondered whether the jury was a true representation of the Merseyside population.
Speaking in front of Michael’s mother and father, friends and family, he 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.”
He added: “This signals that being gay means you don’t have the right to be free on the street, that’s the sad fact.” Gavin Alker, 19, of Fleetwood Road, Runcorn, was acquitted of the 18-year-old Whiston hairdresser’s murder last Friday. He denied making homophobic comments and insisted he had only hit Michael in self-defence.
James O’Connor, 19, who admitted murder without homophobic intent, is yet to be sentenced alongside Michael Binsteed, who admitted perverting the course of justice.
Paul Amann, of Liverpool’s Mersey Marauders, said: “This is a horrendous situation and from the start this case was very much talked about in terms of a hate crime.
“We have been let down by the criminal justice system and, if the jurors aren’t representative, then this needs to be considered by the Criminal Justice Board.” Listening to the group’s concern was Det Insp Richie Carr, senior investigating officer into Michael’s murder.
He said the police were “disappointed” by the verdict and were working on lines of appeal.
Concerns were also raised about the under-reporting of hate crime generally and whether the verdict would send out a signal that homophobic crime wasn’t punished.
Sgt Rob Venables, of Merseyside Police’s diversity team, said hate crime perpetrators would be punished with 49% of crime being detected and action taken.
Michael’s family and the network also want an inquiry into the case, in the hope of shaping the criminal justice system for any similar future cases.