October 24, 2011 at 3:53 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
Gruesome murder of bar manager in Scotland could be hate crime

Stuart Walker

Stuart Walker had recently transferred to a new bar as manager, and local residents say a buzz was building over his arrival. (Photo via Stuart Walker Facebook page)

CUMNOCK, Scotland — The body of a man found viciously beaten and set afire early Saturday morning in a small town in Ayrshire, Scotland was popular barkeeper at the Royal Hotel in Cumnock, and gay man, Stuart Walker.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Walker’s Facebook is now covered in hundreds of heartfelt farewell messages from friends and neighbors who knew this friendly local personality, after police in Scotland say the man was tied to a lamp post, viciously beaten, burned, and left for dead on the street sometime before 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning.

Detective Inspector John Hogg, from Strathclyde police, told the BBC the police are still trying to identify a “motive for this murder.”

“I am aware of all the speculation in the media regarding Mr Walker and his death,” the detective said. “At this time we have nothing to indicate that this is a homophobic crime. Until we know the exact circumstances surrounding this murder, we will not rule anything out and will keep an open mind on any possible motive for his terrible crime.”

The Sunday Mail newspaper in Scotland says one local resident reported hearing a disturbance at the time of the murder.

“There was a disturbance last night in the town near the industrial estate involving young people and this could be linked to this man’s death,” the local was quoted as saying.

Detective Hogg told the Telegraph that Walker was last seen alive two hours before his death.

“Stuart had been out with friends in the Cumnock area earlier during the night and was last seen alive by a family friend near to the fire station in Glaisnock Street,” at around 2:30 a.m — more than two hours before he was found — the Detective reported. “It is imperative that we find out where he was between 0230 and 0450 hours, who he was with, and why this happened to him.”

“We understand that there may have been a number of house parties in the nearby Netherthird housing estate in the early hours of the morning – between 2am and 3am,” The Sunday Mail quoted Hogg as saying. “At this time we do not know if these parties are linked to our investigation or not, so again, any information on that is important.”

Hogg says police are examining tape from closed circuit television and conducing door-to-door interviews at this time.


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