A gay man who was beaten to death in a Perth public toilet by two strangers in a brutal and unprovoked attack would have forgiven his killers, his family says.
Warren Gerard Batchelor, 48, died in hospital from life-threatening injuries inflicted by Mark Taylor and Daniel Wade Jones, who found him having sex with another man in a toilet block at Middle Swan Reserve in Caversham in November 2013.
The pair, aged 43 and 37 respectively, were sentenced on Friday to life in prison for Mr Batchelor’s murder and must serve a minimum of 21 years behind bars before they will be eligible for parole.
The West Australian Supreme Court heard Taylor yelled “get up you f***ing f****t” as he kicked down the door of the cubicle.
Taylor then punched Mr Batchelor in the head, causing him to fall to the floor, and continued to attack him while Jones beat him with a wooden pole.
Taylor then pulled an 18cm long knife on the surviving victim, who managed to flee the attack as Taylor chased him and yelled “come back f****t”.
Neither offender made any effort to help Mr Batchelor and have expressed no remorse for their actions, the court heard.
Taylor’s lawyer Simon Freitag said in his sentencing submission that his client had been camping with his children when he learnt that gay men often met at the reserve for sex, which he found shocking and confronting, and wanted the men to leave.
But Justice Lindy Jenkins said she was satisfied the men’s motivation was to brutally beat an unsuspecting man because of his sexuality.
She said despite what someone might think of another person’s sexual activity, it was not provocation for assault of any kind and the public should appreciate assaults of that nature would not be tolerated.
“Your behaviour went far beyond what would be expected of a father in your situation,” she said.
Justice Jenkins said both men, who had only met days earlier at the reserve, had gross disregard for Mr Batchelor’s life, leaving him injured without regard for whether he lived or died.
She said it was not known which man delivered the fatal blow that led to Mr Batchelor’s death but that did not matter because they were both equally culpable in his murder.
In a statement, Mr Batchelor’s family said knowing their beloved Warren, “he would have forgiven them already”.
“Whilst we pray for them to be rehabilitated and, if ever, returned to the community as better persons, we remain broken for the rest of our lives. Our thanks again goes out to everyone”.