A man who murdered black teenager Anthony Walker in a barbaric racist attack is to be released from prison on parole.
Michael Barton, brother of former Premiership footballer Joey Barton, was 17 when he ambushed and assaulted 18-year-old Walker in a Huyton park in 2005.
Walker was accompanying his girlfriend Louise and cousin Marcus to a bus stop when Barton and his cousin, Paul Taylor, then 20, chased them into a park.
Louise and Marcus were able to escape, but Walker’s life came to an end when Taylor hit the boy in the head with an ice pick, causing him to become brain dead.
The sentencing judge, Justice Leveson, said at the time that the couple were guilty of “racist violence of a kind that is poisonous to any civilized society.”
Taylor was ordered to serve 23 years and eight months in prison.
Officials at the time described Barton as withdrawn, violent and living a life fueled by drugs and alcohol, according to Parole Board documents.
He showed “misguided loyalty” to like-minded people and displayed “racist attitudes”.
Barton’s initial sentence was reduced by eight months to 17 years in 2016 for becoming a charity fundraiser behind bars. The judges noted the ‘remarkable transformation’ of him.
Nearly two decades after the brutal attack, Barton, now 34, could soon be out of prison.
Last year, he was transferred to an open prison, which is one with less security and supervision.
The Parole Board, a body that assesses the potential risk of releasing prisoners, said yesterday that its panel was “satisfied that Mr. Barton was fit for release.”
The panel said: “After considering the circumstances of his offence, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr. Barton was fit for release.”
Panelists heard during parole hearings how Barton had begun taking courses on victim awareness and substance abuse.
Conditions of your license include living at a designated address, curfew, and strict supervision and control.
It will also limit who can see and what they can do, including observing an exclusion zone to avoid contact with victims.
The Ministry of Justice has 21 days to review the recommendation of the Parole Board, it is understood.
Walker’s mother, Gee Walker, founded a charity on her son’s behalf to combat anti-black attitudes.
In February, a spokesperson for the Anthony Walker Foundation said: “We are aware of the imminent decision by the Parole Board regarding Michael Barton, who murdered Anthony in 2005.
“Every anniversary, birthday, family reunion, and special occasion evokes a sense of never-ending loss, one that will never go away.
‘Anthony was a fantastic son who loved his family, friends and community. He loved sports and he was a great basketball player.
“Before his untimely death, Anthony wanted to study law at university and we know he would have had a positive impact on society.”