The parole board recommends the release of the racial hatred killer

A racist thug who murdered black teenager Anthony Walker is set to be released from prison on the recommendation of the parole board.

Michael Barton, the brother of former Premiership footballer Joey Barton, was 17 when he racially abused 18-year-old Anthony Walker and then attacked him in a park in Huyton, Merseyside, in July 2005.

Barton’s 20-year-old cousin, Paul Taylor, was sentenced to life in prison after hitting the victim in the head with an ice pick during the ambush.

At the time sentencing judge Mr Justice Leveson said the pair were guilty of “racist brawling of a kind poisonous to any civilized society”.

Barton was someone at the time of his offense who lived an antisocial lifestyle fueled by alcohol and drugs, exhibited “misguided loyalty” to like-minded people, and displayed “racist attitudes” and his willingness to use violence, according to parole board documents.

Barton, who is now 34, was sentenced to at least 18 years before being paroled, which was reduced by a year after a High Court appeal in 2016, during which judges saw a “remarkable change” in his attitude and behavior.

According to evidence presented at parole hearings, Barton’s initial behavior behind bars had been poor, but he had matured over the past decade and had taken victim awareness and substance abuse courses.

He was transferred to an open prison in February last year.

The parole board’s decision, released Thursday, said the review board could only grant a release if it was satisfied that the protection of the public no longer required Barton to remain in prison.

The panel concluded: “Having considered the circumstances of his offence, the progress made during his detention and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Barton was suitable for release.”

His licensing terms include living at a specific address, a curfew, increased surveillance and surveillance, observing restrictions on contact and activity, and maintaining a no-go zone to avoid contact with victims.

Anthony’s mother, Gee Walker, started a charity to fight racism on her son’s behalf and has dedicated her life to fighting prejudice.

The Justice Department is understood to have 21 days to review the parole board’s recommendation on Barton’s release.

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