Page last updated at 19:48 GMT, Monday, 23 March 2009

Life term for hairdresser killer


The judge accepted that James O'Connor's attack on Michael Causer was not homophobic

A 20-year-old man has been jailed for life for the murder of a hairdresser.

James O'Connor admitted the murder of Michael Causer but was not motivated by homophobia in the "brutal attack", a judge at Liverpool Crown Court said.

The 18-year-old suffered bleeding to the brain after being punched, kicked and stamped on at a house party in Huyton, Merseyside, last year.

O'Connor, of Runcorn, Cheshire, was told he must serve a minimum of 11 years and six months before parole.

The court heard that O'Connor punched Mr Causer in the face then, along with another friend Michael Binsteed, dumped the seriously injured teenager in the street.

Michael Causer was 5ft 6in, he was some seven-and-a-half stone
Mr Justice Timothy King

The pair then told police he had been attacked by complete strangers outside the house, the court heard.

Mr Causer was taken to hospital and had surgery for a blood clot but he died on 2 August.

A post-mortem examination revealed that he had suffered multiple face fractures with extensive haemorrhaging and neck bruises.

Mr Justice Timothy King, sentencing, said Mr Causer had shown some "erratic" behaviour at the house but did not deserve to be attacked.

He said: "Michael Causer was 5ft 6in, he was some seven-and-a-half stone. He was hardly in a position himself, at the time of your attack, to defend himself."

James O'Connor
James O'Connor must serve a minimum of 11 years and six months

The judge said he accepted that O'Connor had not acted out of a "homophobic motivation" in the attack.

O'Connor, of The Brow, Runcorn, was 19 at the time of the attack and had been out celebrating getting a place at Liverpool John Moores University.

He was one of a number of people invited to the house in Biglands Drive by Binsteed, who had been out drinking with Mr Causer.

Binsteed, 19, of Evelyn Avenue, Prescot, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to one count of doing acts tending or intended to pervert the course of justice.

Mr Justice King said he had called the emergency services in a "convincing, but wholly false piece of play acting".

He was was sentenced to 34 weeks in a young offenders institution, suspended for two years.

During the two-year suspension Binsteed was told he must complete 200 hours of unpaid work within 12 months.

Last month, Gavin Alker, 19, who had been charged with the homophobic murder of Mr Causer, was cleared by a jury.

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