Eighteen-year-old Steven Simpson of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was killed after being set on fire during a birthday party in June 2012.
The man who committed the crime, 20-year-old Jordan Sheard from Darfield Road, Cudworth, recently received a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence at Sheffield Crown Court.
The Yorkshire Post reported that Simpson was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a speech impairment, and epilepsy. After being dared to strip down to his underpants at the birthday party by bullies, the young teen was doused with tanning oil. Sheard then set Simpson aflame, which ended up killing the teen two days later. He suffered after being found with 60 percent burns to his body.
During the sentencing for Sheard, the judge heard the harrowing details of Simpson’s treatment. BBC reported that the court heard how the bullies at the party scribbled anti-gay messages on his body (“gay boy,” “I love d**k”) before Sheard set him on fire.
Detective Sean Middletown described Simpson’s personality to BBC:
Steven was described by all who know him as a very caring and likable 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’s defense stated to the Daily Mail that this incident was a “criminally stupid prank that went wrong in a bad way.”
The Star reported that several U.K. LGBT rights advocates groups believe that Sheard’s prison sentencing is too lenient. But prosecuting attorney Tim Warburton has a different opinion:
It was within the range of what would be expected had it been considered a hate crime, and we will therefore not be appealing it as unduly lenient.