Stuart Walker was beaten and set on fire in what is feared to be Scotland's worst anti-gay hate crime.

Walker, a 28-year-old bartender from Cumnock in Ayrshire, suffered a horrific attack that took his life over the weekend. His partially clothed charred remains were found at the side of the road on Saturday.

Police said they could not rule out that Walker was the victim of a homophobic attack.

“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 around 2:30AM hours on Saturday morning – nearly two and a half hours before he was found,” said Detective Inspector John Hogg, who is leading the inquiry.

Chief Superintendent John Thomson of Strathclyde Police added: “I can confirm it was a very violent and sustained attack on Stuart. I do not believe at this stage that this was a random attack. There may be the possibility he knew his attacker or attackers.”

Police described family and friends as “devastated” by their loss.

An unnamed aunt told The Independent: “He was so loveable, popular and friendly. He had a little sister who he loved dearly.”