Gay Brit, Beaten and Burned, Questioned Over ’Child Indecency’ Allegations Prior to Death

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday October 28, 2011

New details have come to light regarding a gay British man whose badly beaten and burned body was discovered by the side of a road in a rural Scottish village last weekend, and police have arrested a male teen in connection with the case.

Scottish news source STV reported in Oct. 28 that an 18-year-old man had been arrested and will appear in court on Oct. 31 in connection with Stuart's murder. Further details were not available.

Stuart Walker, 28, was an openly gay bartender in the village of Cumnock. He had been out with friends on the evening of Oct. 21, and was last seen alive at about 2:30 in the morning on Oct. 22. His body was discovered shortly before 5:00 a.m. that same morning. What happened during the two and a half hours in between times is a mystery, but police speculate that Walker may have gone to a house party.

Police also say that though the attack was "horrific" in its brutality, they do not believe that Walker was the victim of a random crime. Reports also said that Walker's body was found in a state of partial undress, suggesting that he might have been the victim of sexual assault prior to being set on fire.

But a new report on the case offers a fresh perspective that may have significant implications as the investigation continues.

An Oct. 27 article in British newspaper the Telegraph reported that Walker had been questioned by police last summer in connection with an alleged incident of "child indecency" involving a 12-year-old boy.

Officials offered few details.

"We can confirm that the procurator fiscal at Ayr," the region in Scotland where Cumnock is located, "received a report concerning a 28-year-old male in connection with an alleged incident on August 20, 2011," one government official told the press. "The case is now closed."

But the allegations came from a less than credible source, reported UK newspaper the Daily Record on Oct. 28.

"A lying rapist behind a "malicious" child abuse accusation against murder victim Stuart Walker," declared the article's headline.

The victim's "grieving family were devastated yesterday by reports that he had been accused of indecency against a 12-year-old boy," the article reported. "But the Record can reveal the man who made the allegation was a 44-year-old with a long criminal record including rape, assault, car theft and housebreaking.

"And prosecutors planned to throw out the case."

The article related that Stuart had told the mother of the boy in question that she should cut ties with the boy's father. The man became enraged at this, the newspaper reported, and subsequently told the police that Stuart had "placed his hand down the boy's trousers," according to the story's source. "[The accusation] appeared to be utter nonsense and was going nowhere," the source added.

"There was no suggestion at the time Stuart had inappropriately touched any child and one theory is the partner sought revenge by reporting Stuart to the police."

A second source independently verified what the first source told the Daily Record.

"The guy who reported Stuart is trouble and everyone knows it. He's scum," said the second source. "We think this guy saw Stuart as an easy target as he's openly gay. Stuart was horrified about the report.

"It put him under a ridiculous amount of stress in what was ultimately his final days."

"Stuart's accuser has a conviction for raping a woman after pinning her down and threatening to kill her," the Daily Record reported. "He was also accused of breaching the rules of the sex offenders' register."

Police stressed that they had no reason to think, at this point, that the alleged incident had to do with Walker's murder "in any way," the Telegraph article said.

The police have also said that although they have ruled nothing out, there is as yet no definitive evidence to indicate that Walker's death was a hate crime motivated by anti-gay bias.

To the LGBT community, however, the sheer brutality of Walker's killing is reminiscent of bias crimes targeting gays. One frequent hallmark of anti-gay violent crimes is excessive violence.

Witnesses at a party where Walker was last seen alive said that he had been drunk when he set out to return home. They also said he left without his eyeglasses.

Walker was well liked in the village, with friends and co-workers praising him to the media. Well-wishers have also left thousands of messages of condolence and support on Facebook pages set up in Walker's memory.

The Facebook pages provided a forum for comments. One individual posted a poignant note about living a life of isolation in a rural community.

"I know all about homophobia which is rife in my town which tends to live in the last century," the posting read. "The police will catch whoever did this to Stuart but nothing will change around here as they are stuck in the stoneage.

"Like Stuart I am not the only gay in the 'village' but sometimes it looks that way," added the posting. "RIP brother."

Walker had been employed at a local hotel before starting a new job at a bar mere days before his murder. A former hotel co-worker told the press she could not "believe this happened to such a great guy. I hope they catch those who did this to him. Hopefully justice will be served and I hope those who did this go to hell."

Walker's family also spoke out about the pain and heartbreak the young man's brutal murder had inflicted on them. Walker had missed his grandmother's birthday party, reported British newspaper the Daily Record on Oct. 24, and his relatives knew nothing of his slaying until after the festivities.

"We knew something was wrong because he was really close to his gran and wouldn't have missed her party for anything," said John Mullen, 28, a cousin to the victim.

"He was close to everyone who knew him," continued Mullen. "He was everyone's best pal.

"Whoever has done this has ripped our family apart and broke everyone's heart," Mullen added. "If anyone knows what happened, we would plead with them to come forward."

Anti-gay violence has been on the rise in Britain for several years. An Oct. 25 International Business Times posting referenced a Stonewall Scotland survey from last year that found many Scottish GLBTs were resigned to being targeted for vicious attacks.

"Too many people in Scotland experience hate crimes--and many don't report it, because they think it won't make a difference or because it happens on such a regular basis," the survey said. "A quarter told us they accept the abuse and the attacks as part of being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in Scotland."

"That attitude might change after Walker's murder," the IBT article said. "Not reporting abuse allows the abusers to get away with it. They, their peers and the next generation of Scots won't learn that hating (and hurting) someone because of their sexual orientation is not OK."

Another fire-related attack injured two men at a gay pub in Leicester, England, on Oct. 25. Details were few, but reports suggested that the men had been doused with a flammable substance and set on fire. One man received "significant" burn injuries to his face and was on a ventilator at the hospital. The other sustained burns to his hands. Both men were in their early 20s.

Another man, 24 years of age, remains in police custody.

The attack took place at the Rainbow and Dove, a pub with a gay clientele that is located in Leicester's city center. Police refrained from calling the attack a hate crime--yet. But they said that the investigation would not rule out that possibility.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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