U.K. Man Sentenced for Setting Fire to & Killing Gay Teen
A British man has been sent to jail for killing a gay teenager on the teen’s birthday by setting him on fire, the British newspaper the Mirror reports.
Jordan Sheard, 20, of Cudley, a village in the English county of South Yorkshire, doused Steven Simpson with tanning oil before flicking a lighter at Simpson’s groin. The incident, which occurred around 2 a.m. on June 22, 2012, was supposed to part of a prank for Simpson’s 18th birthday party. But when the teen went up in flames, Sheard and others ran away instead of helping him.
Simpson, who lived alone and had Asperger syndrome, epilepsy and a speech impairment, died the next day in the hospital from 60 percent burns.
On Thursday, a court heard that Simpson was bullied at the party over his disabilities and because he was gay. He was then dared to strip to his boxers.
"Egged on by others you sought to put a flame to Steven," Judge Roger Keen told Sheard, who admitted manslaughter. "What it did was engulf him in a fire. You tried to briefly assist and then you ran away. That in my judgment is serious aggravation."
Prosecutor Sarah Wright said that Simpson, "Seemed to be enjoying the situation. Then Jordan Sheard took out a light and Steven went up in flames."
Before Simpson died at the hospital he told his father that "a lad" threw a bottle all over him and the next thing he knew he "was going up in flames."
Andrew Smith, the lawyer defending Sheard, called it "the result of a criminally stupid prank that went wrong in a bad way. He is a pleasant young man with no edge to his character, hard-working and has a degree of intelligence."
A detective in the case described the victim to the BBC as as "a very caring and likeable young man, whose family will miss him greatly. His generous spirit was taken advantage of and a single thoughtless act resulted in his death."
Sheard has been sentenced to jail for three-and-a-half years after he admitted to manslaughter.