A teenager has appeared in court charged with the murder of gay Scottish man Stuart Walker.

The Daily Record reports that Ryan Esquierdo, 18, is also alleged to have stolen items from the 28-year-old at Caponacre Industrial Estate in Cumnock, Ayrshire, in the early hours of October 22.

“My client faces two charges – one of murder and one of theft. He made no plea or declaration,” Esquierdo’s solicitor Gerry Tierney said.

“Bail was not sought and Mr Esquierdo is expected to appear again next week.”

Walker had been killed and left at the side of the road with horrific injuries in what local media called a ‘possible homophobic attack’ last month.

28-year-old Walker (pictured) was beaten, tied to a lamp-post and set on fire in the early hours of the morning.

His charred remains were found by a member of the public and local police confirmed the body had scorch marks and that the victim had suffered horrific injuries.

They would not rule out that Walker had been murdered because of his sexuality.

Hate crimes against the gay community in Scotland have risen almost fivefold in the past five years, statistics revealed earlier this year.

A freedom of information request to Scotland’s eight police forces showed a disturbing rise in reports of violent attacks, indecent assaults, abuse and vandalism against people targeted just because of their sexual orientation.

There were 666 incidents of homophobic abuse in 2009-10, almost double the 364 incidents reported in 2007-8, and almost five times the 114 incidents reported in 2004-5.

New laws were introduced in Scotland in 2010 to tackle hate crime against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, putting it on the same footing as incidents involving racism.

The Offences Aggravated by Prejudice (Scotland) Act brought Scotland into line with the rest of the UK by widening the definition of hate crimes.

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