BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 12 November 2007, 13:08 GMT
Homophobic killer jailed for life
David Meehan and Martin Souter
The victim's blood was found on trainers worn by Meehan and Soutar
A teenager who murdered a gay council worker in a public park in Perth has been jailed for life.

David Meehan, 19, from Perth, admitted murdering James Kerr in a homophobic attack at South Inch Park in April. He will serve at least 16 years in jail.

At the High Court in Edinburgh, his co-accused, Martin Soutar, 21, from Perth, pled guilty to culpable homicide and was jailed for nine years.

A 15-year-old youth, who sparked the attack, will be sentenced on Tuesday.

Mr Kerr, 51, was left lying in a pool of blood with major head injuries while Meehan and his accomplices went to a party.

'Homophobic element'

Meehan later claimed they walked past their victim two hours later and ignored him as he lay on a path near a boating pond.

The schoolboy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted assaulting the victim by punching him in the face and knocking him to the ground.

Judge Lord Macphail said: "This was a killing of a callous and brutal character which appears to have been marked by a homophobic element."

He said photographs of the victim's body were "horrifying".

James Kerr
Mr Kerr died later on the day of the attack

He told Meehan: "This was a savage and sustained attack on a defenceless man who had done you no harm."

The judge said the murderer would have faced a minimum term of 18 years, if he had not pled guilty.

He told him he was not guaranteed automatic release after serving the 16 years set and added: "You remain liable to be detained for life."

Lord Macphail told Soutar, who was on bail at the time of the attack: "You have admitted responsibility for contributing to killing this man."

He ordered that he should serve an extended sentence for a further three years when he will be kept under supervision to protect the public.

The court had heard how the 15-year-old was walking in the park in the early hours of 22 April, taking a shortcut home.

Mr Kerr, a Perth and Kinross Council civic officer, was in the park and a witness heard the boy shout at him.

After the boy later called Soutar, claiming he had been assaulted, Meehan and Souter went to the park and all three attacked Mr Kerr.

Lord McPhail
Lord McPhail said Meehan was not guaranteed automatic release

As they left the scene the schoolboy was heard to say that he hated "gays and poofters".

A woman walking her dog later came across Mr Kerr. He died later that day in hospital.

Blood from the victim was later found on trainers worn by both Meehan and Soutar.

Defence counsel Jack Davidson QC, for Meehan, said he had expressed remorse and maintained that no homophobic motive was involved in the offence.

Gordon Jackson QC, for Soutar, said he had also been drinking and got involved by taking two or three kicks before stopping.

Defence counsel Mhairi Richards said on behalf of the schoolboy: "He has made it plain the deceased made no sexual approach to him."

The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomed the sentences.

A commission spokesperson said: "We are glad that the judge's comments left in no doubt that this was a homophobic murder and that the sentences reflect the seriousness of the crime and the public horror at them."



SEE ALSO
Killers boasted about park attack
16 Oct 07 |  Tayside and Central
Men guilty of homophobic killing
15 Oct 07 |  Tayside and Central
Three stand trial over park death
12 Oct 07 |  Tayside and Central
Three committed over park death
02 May 07 |  Scotland

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific