Joey Barton's killer brother granted parole and may be free in weeks

Joey Barton’s racist brother is granted parole and could be freed from prison next month – 17 years after he murdered a young black student at a bus stop

  • Michael Barton, 32, killed Anthony Walker, 18, in a sickening racist attack in 2005
  • Barton was imprisoned for what the trial judge called ‘poisonous racist thuggery’
  • The 33-year-old has been granted parole and may be free as early as next month
  • Joey Barton’s racist killer brother has been granted parole from prison and could be free as early as next month.

    Michael Barton was jailed for 18 years in 2006 for his role in the sickening ice pick murder of black 18-year-old Anthony Walker.

    In February, Barton, 33, was moved to HMP Thorn Cross, an open jail in Cheshire.

    The Parole Board announced its decision today following an oral hearing earlier this month.

    Barton has now been told he will be freed and could be walking the streets again in October.

    A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board has directed the release of Michael Barton following an oral hearing.

    Michael Barton

    Anthony Walker

    Michael Barton (left) murdered Anthony Walker, 18, (right) with cousin Paul Taylor, 20, in Huyton, in 2005, and will have a parole hearing days before the 15th anniversary of the murder

    ‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

    ‘A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

    ‘Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead up to an oral hearing.

    ‘Evidence from witnesses such as probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements may be given at the hearing.

    ‘It is standard for the prisoner and witnesses to be questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.

    ‘Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.’

    Joey (pictured this month) told his brother to turn himself in in the aftermath of the crime

    Joey (pictured this month) told his brother to turn himself in in the aftermath of the crime

    Barton’s release is subject to a number of strict conditions.

    The killer gave evidence supporting his parole bid and is believed to have emphasised his exemplary behaviour and progress in jail.

    A written summary of the decision states: ‘Evidence was presented at the hearing regarding Mr Barton’s progress and custodial conduct during this sentence.

    ‘He had undertaken accredited programmes to address his decision making and had completed two years on a regime designed to support people in addressing drug misuse.

    ‘Mr Barton had also completed work on victim awareness and had engaged in a regime designed and supported by psychologists to help people recognise and deal with their problems.

    ‘There had been no behavioural concerns for many years and Mr Barton had secured trusted roles in prison.

    ‘It was considered that Mr Barton had addressed past concerns about racist attitudes through his improved level of maturity and living in prison with a diverse group of people.’

    The report added: ‘The panel was told that Mr Barton had made good use of his time in the open prison, which had included testing in the community via several periods of temporary release on licence.

    Gee Walker, Anthony's mother, said the decision to grant parole left her feeling 'betrayed'

    Gee Walker, Anthony’s mother, said the decision to grant parole left her feeling ‘betrayed’

    ‘No significant concerns had been raised and in a report before the panel, Mr Barton’s Probation Officer had supported his release.’

    It concluded: ‘After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Barton was suitable for release.’

    The strict licence conditions include an exclusion zone, regular drug testing, wearing an electronic tag and adhering to a curfew.

    Barton was 17 when he and his cousin Paul Taylor, then 20, ambushed 18-year-old Anthony after racially abusing him at a bus stop on July 29, 2005.

    Taylor drove an ice axe through Anthony’s skull in a park in Huyton, Merseyside, and the killers fled to Amsterdam.

    Barton was found guilty of murder and jailed for a minimum of 17 years and eight months at Preston crown court that year, while Taylor admitted murder and must serve at least 23 years and eight months.

    At sentencing, Barton was told he was ‘poisonous to any civilised society’.

    But in 2016 it was revealed Barton’s tariff had been cut to 16 years from 18 after he had become a charity worker in jail.

    The decision left Anthony’s mother, Dr Gee Walker, feeling ‘betrayed’.

    Dr Walker has said: ‘Our justice system is the laughing stock of the world. Life definitely doesn’t mean life.

    ‘But I choose to forgive because living a life of hate is so destructive.’

    She said previously: ‘They promised me 18 years, a year for each year my son lived.

    ‘If the justice system makes a promise and can’t keep it, what hope is there for us?

    ‘When the judge passed a sentence of life, we are the ones who are sentenced to a life of ‘what?’, or ‘how?’

    ‘We wonder what he would have been like, or how he would have turned out. We wonder what he’d be doing now.

    ‘We are the ones who are left with this abyss of pain and wondering.’

    Reducing Barton’s original tariff, Mr Justice Mitting said the killer’s ‘remarkable’ transformation in prison had ­satisfied the ‘high threshold’ for taking time off the sentence.

    The judge noted that a summary of a post-sentence evaluation was that Barton was ‘a racist thug’, and that ‘violence was routinely deployed’ by him and his fellow gang members.

    But he went on to claim that Barton had performed a ‘transformation from a racist thug into the sensible realistic young man’ while in custody.

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