UK Man Found Guilty of Brutal Hate-Crime Murder

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday November 5, 2008

Last February, after reportedly drinking a bottle of vodka, a British man charged through a public park with a knife in his hand, scattering passers-by. Moments later, that knife was buried in the back of a gay man who died hours later.

Now the alleged assailant, Mark Malone, 30, has been found guilty of murder in the stabbing death of Jeff Akers, 50, according to an article posted Nov. 4 by the BBC News.

Akers is survived by his partner of 22 years, Mike Drew, who told the court at Malone's trial, "I feel that there is only half of me now. I have to look at everything differently.

[Jeff] was really loved by everybody."

He added: "He did so much for people in the gay community, people with HIV.

The judge, David Paget, offered his condolences to Drew, calling Akers' death "an awful waste of life for absolutely nothing."

As reported in previous stories, the attack took place at a public restroom reputed to be a place where gay public sex took place.

Malone had claimed that prior to the stabbing, Akers had made an advance toward him.

At Malone's trial, the court was told by witnesses that Malone was "on a mission" as he strode through the park with the knife in his hand.

The knife carried by Malone was of the same description as one that had gone missing from a hamburger truck.

Malone then entered a public toilet and plunged the knife into the back of Jeff Akers, 50, severing a rib and a major artery, according to the prosecutor in the case, Ann Cotcher.

Akers staggered out of the facility with the knife buried in his back to the hilt. He was taken by airlift to the hospital, but died hours later.

The jury heard that the stabbing was a "ferocious" anti-gay attack, with Cotcher saying, "It was a totally unprovoked attack by Mark Malone and the only possible motive [was] homophobia, a dislike of homosexuals."

Malone fled, Cotcher told the court, first going home, where he tore up the house in a "rampage, and then going to find his brother-in-law.

Said Cotcher, "He went back to his home address where he smashed up his wife's computer, went on a rampage through the kitchen, slashed the mattress, was sick, and pulled all the bed linen off the bed."

Speaking with his brother-in-law, Cotcher said, Malone related an account in which he claimed that the victim had tried to rape him, adding a hope that, following the knifing, "the guy dies."

Two days later, Malone turned himself in to police.

Malone said that he did not have a problem with gays in general, but he told police that following an advance from the victim, the two ended up in an altercation.

According to a nov. 4 article carried by yourlocalguardian.co.uk, news of the guilty verdict in the case was hailed by Gino Meriano, a GLBT equality activist, as "a fantastic verdict and shows justice has been well and truly served."

Added Meriano, "This shows this kind of discrimination is never tolerated and that any form of hate crime is not acceptable."

The court was told by Malone's brother-in-law, Paul Malone, and Emma O'Brien, the girlfriend of Paul Malone, that on the day of the attack, Mark Malone had described stabbing Akers to them.

To authorities, Malone told a somewhat different story, saying that his memory of the event was not clear and claiming that if he had indeed stabbed anyone, it must have been in self-defense.

Cotcher responded to Malone's claims by using them to portray Malone as someone who refused to take personal responsibility.

Said Cotcher, "It's never Malone--it is always somebody else," the article reported.

Said Malone, who described himself as "devastated" by Akers' death, "This is life-changing for me and for Mr Aker's family."

Malone will be back in court in December for sentencing. It is expected that he will receive a life term.

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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