Glasgow & West Scotland

Ryan Esquierdo jailed for killing Stuart Walker in Cumnock

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Media captionRyan Esquierdo was originally charged with murdering Stuart Walker

A teenager who admitted killing a gay barman who had tried to comfort him over his confused sexuality has been jailed for 12 years.

Ryan Esquierdo, 19, choked 28-year-old Stuart Walker to death at an industrial estate in Cumnock on 22 October last year before setting his body alight.

He pleaded guilty to culpable homicide, after prosecutors accepted his claim of diminished responsibility.

Esquierdo will be monitored for five years after his release from custody.

During a previous hearing, the High Court in Glasgow was told how Esquierdo and Mr Walker had been out separately in Cumnock on 21 October last year.

Chance meeting

They later met each other "by chance" as they made their way home in the early hours of the following morning.

Esquierdo was lying on a wall apparently asleep when Mr Walker woke him and the pair then walked together towards the town's Caponacre Industrial Estate.

Prosecutor Andrew Brown QC said Mr Walker - who was openly gay - and Esquierdo then shared a conversation about the teenager's sexuality.

The court was told how Esquierdo previously had a number of girlfriends, but that his sexuality had been "the subject of discussion by his friends".

Mr Brown said: "Stuart Walker was only sympathetic with (Esquierdo's) conflicted position.

"The accused described feeling safe talking to Mr Walker."

The pair subsequently became intimate, which was consensual, but Esquierdo started to panic.

The court heard claims that Esquierdo had been sexually abused as a boy and that the situation he found himself in with Mr Walker induced "flashbacks".

Mr Brown said this triggered an "uncontrollable rage" within the teenager and that Mr Walker was on the receiving end of "extreme and explosive violence".

The advocate-depute added: "The deceased would have had no warning or sense of what was going to happen."

Victim strangled

Esquierdo bit, punched, kicked and stamped on Mr Walker, who was of far greater build than his attacker.

He then strangled his victim for about four minutes until he was dead.

Mr Brown told the court: "There is (CCTV) footage which may be the accused setting fire to his jacket, which he placed on the deceased's body."

Esquierdo texted his friend Mary-Ann Dykes after the incident, claiming he and another boy had "just got jumped".

Miss Dykes arrived at the scene and met Esquierdo, who had been described as "a total wreck".

She found Mr Walker's charred body and stamped out flames on a piece of fabric at his shoulder.

Esquierdo called police and again claimed to an officer that there had been an attack by others and that Mr Walker had been set on fire.

The teenager was examined and initially released, but was detained for the killing days later following investigations.

The court was told psychologists had provided reports prior to the hearing and it was accepted that Esquierdo was suffering from diminished responsibility at the time.

It was concluded that post-traumatic stress disorder had sparked the brutal attack on Mr Walker.

'Senseless killing'

At the High Court in Glasgow on Thursday, temporary judge Rita Rae QC sentenced Esquierdo to 10 years and three months for the killing.

She added another one year and nine months after he also admitted to a charge of attempting to defeat the ends of justice.

Judge Rae said Mr Walker had been the victim of "a brutal and senseless killing" of someone who attempted to show "only kindness and sympathy" to his killer.

"For that he lost his life in a most horrific way," the judge said.

She added: "It is patently obvious that you are capable of extreme violence.

"I cannot ignore too that, although having no memory of what you had just done, you had the presence of mind to attempt to cover up your crime and to destroy evidence.

"This included setting fire to Mr Walker's body and making up a story for the police that others had attacked you and that they had killed Mr Walker.

"You kept up that pretence for some considerable time."

Mr Walker's aunt Linda Woods - who was joined in court by a large number of the barman's relatives and friends - said no sentence would heal her family's pain.

She also criticised the decision by prosecutors to accept the guilty plea to the reduced charge.

Mrs Woods went on: "I don't know how it was not murder. He (Esquierdo) knew what he was doing.

"I don't know Esquierdo, but for someone to say that was his reason (being abused as a child) for what he did is shocking. He took this out on a person who would not hurt anyone.

"Stuart would have spoken to anyone - that was the way he was - and this is what happened. He was just at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

"Stuart just did not deserve this - he was one of the nicest guys you could meet. His loss has left such a big hole in the family."

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