Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Friday, 20 February 2009

Man cleared of homophobic murder

Michael Causer
Michael Causer suffered massive head injuries

A man has been cleared of murdering a teenager in a homophobic attack.

Gavin Alker, 19, was accused of beating Michael Causer, 18, to death with a hard-backed book at a house in Huyton, Liverpool, last July.

A jury at Liverpool Crown Court was told Mr Alker, of Runcorn, attacked Mr Causer, a hairdresser, after a night drinking alcohol.

But Mr Alker blamed the attack on a James O'Connor, 19, also of Runcorn, who has admitted murder.

It was alleged Mr Alker made homophobic comments to Mr Causer before launching an attack with a book about American history.

'Disappointed'

Mr Alker had denied making the comments and claimed he only hit the teenager in self-defence.

The court had heard Mr Alker, Mr O'Connor and another friend, Michael Binsteed, 18, of Evelyn Avenue, dumped Mr Alker in a street and claimed he was attacked by three random men.

Mr Binsteed has admitted perverting the course of justice.

Mr Causer was taken to Whiston Hospital but transferred to Walton's neurological centre with massive head injuries. He later died.

He had suffered multiple face fractures with extensive haemorrhaging and neck bruises.

Supt Martin Andrew, of Merseyside Police said: "We respect the decision of the court today, however we are obviously extremely disappointed.

"This is a difficult day for the family and our deepest sympathies are with them at this time.

"There has been a collective determination from all staff and officers involved, to bring about justice for Michael and his family."

No date has been set for the sentencing of Mr Binsteed and Mr O'Connor.



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