Dated 12th December 2008
Life Imprisonment for killer of Jeff Akers
MARK Malone, from Walton-on-Thames, who was found guilty at the Old Bailey last month of the murder of Peter Jeffrey Akers, has today been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a minimum to serve 30 years.
Fifty-year-old ‘Jeff' Akers, from Wallington, South London , died from a single stab wound to the back after being attacked in the public toilets in Walton Lane , just off Walton Bridge , on Tuesday, 19 February. The weapon, a large kitchen knife, was recovered from the scene.
Unemployed Malone, aged 30 and married with two young children, was arrested the following day, Wednesday, 20 February and subsequently charged with murder, to which he pleaded not guilty when he appeared at the Central Criminal Court Friday, 13 June.
Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Preston-Heard, said: “This was a vicious, unprovoked homophobic attack by Mark Malone on a harmless, innocent man.
“Our thoughts are with the family who were forced to endure a trial. I would like to thank my team of Surrey officers who worked diligently to prove Malone's guilt, along with the media who greatly assisted in publicising our witness appeals, using their networks to reach potential witnesses across the country who may not otherwise have been keen to come forward.
“Murder is very rare in Surrey and this investigation has shown Surrey Police's commitment to tackling such serious crime and bringing offenders to justice.
“I would like to add that Surrey Police has always treated any form of hate crime as a serious offence and I urge victims to report the incident to the police, no matter how minor they believe it may be.”
Gino Meriano Chair of Gay Surrey says "At last justice is served, now others can learn the lesson that we will not tolerate any form of Hate Crime and its now time to see more outcomes, solutions and actions by the relevant authorities in 2009"
Dated 4th November 2008
Walton man guilty of gay toilet murder
30-year-old accused of murdering a gay man in a Walton toilet used by homosexuals for sex has been found guilty of murder.
Mark Malone was found guilty at the Old Bailey today of murdering Jeff Akers in Cowey Sales toilets last February.
The court heard how Malone had taken an eight inch knife from a nearby burger van and attacked Mr Akers, stabbing him in the back so hard the blade entered up to the handle.
Mr Akers, a gay man from Wallington, was found in his underpants with a blade embedded in his back after staggering from the toilets.
He was airlifted to hospital but died from his wound.
Malone, from Walton, told the court he was involved in a scuffle with the 50-year-old after he made advances on him and said that although he did not remember the fight he must have stabbed Mr Akers in self-defence.
The court was told that Malone, who is married with children, had drunk a bottle of vodka before the stabbing.
Malone had told the court he had been carrying the knife to protect himself against a group of gypsies who he claimed had been hassling him.
But the prosecution dismissed his explanation as a fallacy.
The court also heard evidence from Malone's brother-in-law Paul Malone and Paul Malone's girlfriend Emma O'Brien.
The pair told the court Malone, who took his wife's name after marriage, had demonstrated to them how he had stabbed Mr Akers on the day of the murder.
Malone told the court the pair had given evidence against him after being coached by police. Ann Cotcher, acting for the prosecution, told the jury Malone was a man who never took responsibility for his own actions.
“It's never Malone - it is always somebody else,” she said.
Gay rights campaigner Gino Meriano, speaking after the verdict said: “It is a fantastic verdict and shows justice has been well and truly served. Let's hope he gets life.
“This shows this kind of discrimination is never tolerated and that any form of hate crime is not acceptable.
He added: "A lot more work needs to be done to stop hate crime in Surrey.”
Malone told the court he was "devestated" about what had happened to Mr Ackers. He said: "This is life-changing for me and for Mr Acker's family."
Malone is due to be sentenced in December.
Dated 29th October 2008
Duo giving helping hand to come out - GET SURREY
WHETHER you are struggling with your sexuality or openly out of the closet, a Weybridge charity is at hand to help welcome you into the county's gay community.
Gay Surrey was founded in 2005 by Gino Meriano and partner Mike Meriano as a network to provide advice, offer information, arrange social events and fight for equality - Read more
Dated 15th October 2008
Police seek witnesses following incident in Ripley car park
Surrey Police is appealing for members of the public for information following an incident of deliberate damage to a car when it was parked in a car park off the A3 in Ripley this week.
The driver of a black Mitsubishi estate had stopped off for a break at Ockham Café late on Tuesday night when his car was targeted. The offender entered the lay-by in a dark 4 x 4 vehicle and shone a bright light around vehicles parked up, before causing damage to the victim's car.
The incident happened sometime between 10.30pm and 10.37pm. Officers are urging anyone who may have seen the incident or who may have seen anyone acting or driving suspiciously in the area to contact police as soon as possible.
The officer in charge of the case, DC Jamie Pickering said: “This is an incident which is being taken very seriously and is being thoroughly investigated. I would urge anyone who has any information or who might have seen some similar incident which might help officers trace the offender to call Surrey Police. In the meantime high visibility patrols will be working in this isolated location to reassure the public.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Surrey Police on 0845 125 2222. Alternatively Crimestoppers can be contacted anonymously and free of charge on 0800 555 111.
Dated 12th August 2008
Gay Surrey Facebook
Since launching our own face book we have seen some great response and support to this and its growing every day, I would like to thank everyone involved for doing this especially Dave
As a result I am pleased to say there is a small feature about our facebook appearing in the Surrey Comet and Elmbridge Guardian later this week
Dated 5th August 2008
Gay Surrey joins with trust to champion Human Rights
The Trust has entered into a partnership arrangement with the charity Gay Surrey to promote human rights among staff and to help combat prejudice against minority groups.
Read the full story
Dated 5th August 2008
Where have we been seen?
Gay Surrey are now listed
4 week advertisement campaign running with the popular www.outeverywhere.com to have the attached banner seen by over 2.5K users in surrey or surrounding areas. To start at the end of next week
http://www.gba.org.uk/ (banner at the bottom)
Dated 28th July 2008
Gay Men's Survey
Calling all men
Last year's Vital Statistics recruitment was very successful at recruiting 10,000 men who qualified for the final analysis (i.e. were UK-resident, had sex with another man in the last year - or intended to in the future - and were over 14 years of age). 89 organisations took part in the recruitment to the survey.
Gay Surrey are so proud of all your support and as a result of the good work we have done with alongside Ian Cole, the charity has been recognised in the report for both 2006 and 7 by the Gay Men's Survey.
Take the survey now
Gino Meriano Chair of Gay Surrey says " from our research I was amazed to find that over 2700 new cases of HIV were reported nationwide with Surrey seeming to be following the national trend, what's more worrying from our research is that Woking remains the area highest for HIV in Surrey
The survey takes about 15 minutes to complete and taking part is an interesting and easy way to contribute to fewer HIV cases among gay men in the UK.
Thank you for your support and pass this onto anyone you know that can help us
Dated 28th July
Surrey County Council Awards for Volunteering 2008
A message from Gino Meriano, Chair of Gay Surrey
As you know many people in Surrey were nominated for the above awards
I am proud to have received an award for the "Everybody Matters" category which was presented by Penelope Keith (picture attached).
I'm also pleased to say it didn't stop there :-
Nicola Ward (Trustee)
Nicky you were also recognised as a nominee for your exceptional volunteering (I have your certificate here for you)
Your "Certificate of nomination" has been signed by the chairman and Chief Executive of Surrey County Council, so congratulations is on order for your special contribution to other peoples quality of life within Surrey.
Overall a fantastic result for the charity and continues to prove we truly are making a difference and look forward to what the future holds
Dated 5th July 2008
Call for better police response over gay hate crime
A CHARITY for homosexuals in the county has applauded a government promise to tackle gay hate crime, following "disturbing" new findings, Gino Meriano Chair speaks out about Hate crime
Read the full story
Also covered in the Woking, Esher, Weybridge News and Mail. Surrey Comet and Surrey Advertiser
Dated 4th July 2008
The Peacocks Centre
PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM CHURSTON HEARD
The Peacocks Centre Woking
Following your support of the petition on Gay Surrey's website regarding The Peacocks Centre Woking we are writing to confirm the following:
The Peacocks Shopping Centre is non-discriminatory, is open to all members of the public and operates wholly in accordance with employment, equality and diversity laws.
Churston Heard are unable to comment in regards to Mr Keepings alleged comments to the press and feel these comments have certainly been misquoted and misinterpreted
The Centre has continued to, and will continue to, make space available for events and charitable collections and was extremely disappointed by the reporting in the local press of the lack of charitable representation at World Aids Day in December 2007.
We are pleased to announce that The Centre and Gay Surrey are working closely together to ensure that the key aim of raising awareness of the fight against HIV and AIDS is promoted and can confirm that charitable collections are being held on 1st December 2008.
Dated 4th July 2008
Gay Men's Sex Survey
The report called "Multiple Chances" which houses the findings from the United Kingdom Gay Men's Sex Survey 2006 has been published and I am so excited to say that our charity Gay Surrey has been listed under the Acknowledgments.
Gino Meriano says "We did such a great job in getting the community of Surrey to complete the survey and it's such a honour to be listed in their publication, thank you to everyone that helped us get the word out"
Dated 26th June 2008
One in five gay people victim of hate crime in last three years
Home Secretary promises action
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith today tasked the Ministerial Action Group on Violence to address homophobic hate crime in the light of disturbing new findings from major new research. The first statistically significant national survey of its kind reveals the extent of abuse facing many of Britain's 3.6 million lesbian and gay people on a daily basis. One in five have been a victim of one or more homophobic hate crimes in the last three years. However three in four don't report such incidents to the police, many believing that no action will follow. The incidents ranged from harassment to serious physical and sexual assaults.
Gino Meriano Chair of the charity Gay Surrey speaks out "Over the last year we have created a survey to help those in the public sector to understand the needs and priorities of the LGB community in Surrey, with this national survey together with our local survey I hope that the police and schools authority will at last throw their support behind our "Stop Hate Now" and "Learn, Teach, Grow" campaigns, specifically aimed at key issues highlighted by this survey.
57% of people in Surrey said they would report a hate incident/crime if it happened to them, however of the 39% that have been a victim in Surrey 62% did NOT report it.
If you did report the incident/crime how did Surrey Police react to your request 49% said it was poor.
46% say they feel the need to hide their sexuality in public to remain safe
Only 18% felt Surrey Police treat everyone fairly regardless of their sexuality
30% feel Surrey Police do NOT understand the issues that affect the LGB community
Stats from the Gay Surrey Lifestyle survey as of the 26th June 2008
Respondents in London were more likely to alter their behaviour so as not to be identified as gay, in order to escape attack and abuse, than in any other area of Britain. They were also more likely to say they fell victim to homophobic hate crime because of where they were, such as near a gay venue, - with 40 per cent saying so - than anywhere else in Britain
Jacqui Smith continued 'In the 21 st century no one in Britain should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence just because of their sexual orientation. We're determined that lesbian and gay people should have the confidence to report crimes to the police knowing that they will be taken seriously, the crime investigated and their privacy respected. Our key priorities are to increase reporting; increase offences brought to justice and to tackle repeat victimisation and hotspots.'
Mike Cunningham, an ACPO lead on gay equality and Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire, said: 'The statistics speak for themselves. It cannot be acceptable that a third of victims do not report incidents to the police because they do not think the police would, or could, do anything about it. Neither is it right that two thirds of those who reported incidents to the police were not offered or referred to advice or support services. 'The findings offer the service a real opportunity to make real improvements both in terms of how homophobic incidents are dealt with but also in terms of raising people's confidence in reporting these incidents in the first place.'
The report's ten key recommendations include encouraging police to improve the recording of homophobic hate incidents and help lesbian and gay people to report them. The report also recommends tackling homophobic bullying in schools and the workplace in order to help reduce the likelihood of homophobic incidents on the streets.