The mum of murdered black teenager Anthony Walker today said constant legal and prison challenges from her son's killers were "violating our family's peace of mind."

Gee Walker has spoken out about recent reports that murderer Michael Barton was likely to soon be moved to an open jail.

The 32-year-old was 17 when he hurled racist abuse at 18-year-old Anthony and then attacked him in McGoldrick Park in Huyton, in a 2005 murder which shocked the nation.

Barton's cousin Paul Taylor, 20, then smashed an ice axe into the much-loved teen's head before the pair fled to Amsterdam.

Barton was handed a life sentence, with a minimum of 17 years and Taylor, who struck the fatal blow, is serving at least 23 years and eight months.

But as Barton is nearing the end of his minimum tariff, set for August 2022, discussions have taken place about downgrading his prison status to an open jail.

The Parole Board is recommending the move, believing he has matured over the last decade and been taking part in courses on victim awareness and substance abuse.

But the news has triggered huge upset for the Walker family, who feel they are treated without consideration in the handling of Barton and Taylor.

Anthony's mum today told the ECHO: "For the past six years, we've been fighting these things[legal challenges and parole hearings].

"People think what happened goes away, but it doesn't.

"Every year we get calls asking for witness statements. We adhere to it, but I don't know what more I can say to them.

"They are not listening to us, why keep bothering us?

"There's a Parole Board for criminals, but who cares about us, Anthony's family?

Michael Barton was found guilty of murdering Anthony Walker (158)
Michael Barton was found guilty of murdering Anthony Walker

"Why should we keep fighting when the decision has already been made?

"It just puts us through hell again and is a violation of our peace of mind, with nothing we say taken on board.

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"They promised me a year for each of the years they took from my son."

Barton, who brought the axe to the scene and screamed racist abuse at Anthony and his black cousin, jumped in a car to chase the teen before hiding in bushes and ambushing them as Anthony tried to escape through a nearby park.

Anthony Walker.

Afterwards, Taylor and Barton drove the 300 miles to Dover in time to catch a 6am ferry to Calais and then drove to Amsterdam.

When he fled to Holland, his famous footballer brother Joey made a televised appeal for Michael, his brother, to return home.

Parole Board papers state: "At the time of his offending, these risk factors had included leading an antisocial lifestyle and associating with like-minded people.

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"He had shown misguided loyalty towards these people and had displayed racist attitudes and an outlook supportive of the use of violence.

"Mr Barton had misused alcohol and illicit drugs and he had not thought sufficiently about the consequences of his actions.

"Evidence was presented at the hearing regarding Mr Barton’s progress and custodial conduct during this sentence.

"Initially, his behaviour had been poor but he had made significant changes over the last decade, as his probation officer could testify.

"He had matured and generally conformed to the custodial regime, taking on trusted employment and acting as a prisoners’ representative.

"In this role, he had championed violence reduction, victim awareness and equalities.

"Mr Barton had undertaken an accredited programme to address decision making and better ways of thinking and he had participated in an intensive regime to help people recognise and deal with their problems.

"He had also undertaken training courses concerning victim awareness and substance misuse, following these up with refresher modules.

Paul Taylor admitted killing Anthony Walker with an axe (158)
Paul Taylor admitted killing Anthony Walker with an axe (158)

"...the psychologist confirmed that Mr Barton remained constructively motivated and that he had developed a sense of positive identity.

"...after considering the circumstances of his offending and the progress made while in custody, as well as the benefits and risks of Mr Barton transferring to open conditions, the panel recommended that he should be progressed in this way.

"It is now for the [Justice]Secretary of State to decide whether he accepts the Parole Board’s recommendation."

Gee said she was undecided if moving to an open prison was the right decision, or if Barton was soon ready, or ever ready, for release.

She described the contact from the Parole Board as "torture" and "putting us back in solitary confinement."

Mrs Walker added: "Nothing we do matters, as they will do what they are going to do.

Gee Walker at the candlelit Walk of Remembrance in memory of Anthony Walker at McGoldrick Park, Huyton in 2005. Photo by Colin Lane

"I am a peaceful person, from the depths of my heart, but the system needs to be changed.

"They are ripping out our hearts again, why?"

She added: "I'm not bitter or angry, but we don't need to be put through hell, again."

At the time, sentencing judge Mr Justice Leveson said Taylor and Barton were guilty of "racist thuggery of a type that is poisonous to any civilised society".

A Parole Board spokesman said: "The Parole Board has recommended that Michael Barton is suitable for a move to an open conditions prison following an oral hearing.

"We will only make a recommendation for open conditions if a Parole Board panel is satisfied that the risk to the public has reduced sufficiently to be manageable in an open prison. This was supported by all those who gave evidence at the hearing.

“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community, or in open conditions.

"The panel carefully examined a whole range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as understood the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

“Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.

"This is a recommendation only and the Ministry of Justice will now consider the advice and make the final decision.

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"A move to open conditions involves testing the prisoner’s readiness for future release.

"Prisoners moved to open conditions can be returned to closed conditions if there is concern about their behaviour.”