Two men from Perth, Western Australia have been sentenced to life in jail on Friday with a 21-year minimum for the fatal bashing of a gay man in a public toilet in a nature reserve in November 2013.
Daniel Wade Jones and Mark Taylor were found guilty of murdering 48-year-old Warren Gerard Batchelor who was then having a sexual encounter with another man in a disabled toilet.
According to media reports, the court heard that Taylor and Jones, who had only met days earlier at the reserve, had burst into the toilet cubicle at the Middle Swan Reserve while the men were inside.
The West Australian Supreme Court heard Taylor yelled ‘get up you fucking faggot’ as he kicked down the door of the cubicle, according to an AAP news report.
According to the same report, Taylor punched Batchelor in the head, and continued to attack him after he fell to the floor, as Jones beat him with a wooden pole.
Taylor then pulled an 18cm long knife on the other victim, who managed to escape.
Batchelor died in hospital two days later the attack.
Jones and Taylor, who was with his four children camping in the reserve, told the court that they were angry the park was used by gay men for sexual encounters.
Supreme Court Justice Lindy Jenkins rejected the prosecutors’ claim that the bashing was a vigilante attack to rid the area of gay men.
‘I don’t accept that, but nevertheless I have no doubt you wanted that behaviour to stop… and warn others away from the reserve,’ ABC quoted the judge as saying.
She said the pair was ‘motivated by prejudice and hostility’ and that Batchelor had done nothing to provoke Taylor and Jones who attacked an ‘unarmed and unsuspecting man.’
She added that while Taylor may have had concerns about his children being exposed to sexual activity, his actions went ‘far beyond what might have been expected by a father.’
‘Sexual conduct in a public place is not provocation for an assault of any kind,’ she said.
She said the men should have asked those engaging in the activity to stop or report it to the police or the local authorities.
She added that the men had showed no regard for the victim’s life, and made no attempt to get him medical help.
In a statement, Batchelor’s family said knowing their beloved Warren, ‘he would have forgiven them already.’