Three Years For Murdering A Gay Teen With Asperger's

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sinsboldly
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25 Mar 2013, 5:58 pm

Jordan Sheard Convicted For Murdering A Gay Teen With Asperger’s Syndrome By Setting Him On Fire At Boy’s Birthday Party

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A man who killed a teenager by setting him on fire during his 18th birthday party has been convicted of manslaughter, receiving a three-and-a-half-year sentence.

Jordan Sheard, age 20, set Steven Simpson on fire during his 18th birthday party last summer.

The court heard how Mr Simpson was bullied at his celebration and tanning oil was poured over him by other people at the party before he was set aflame.

Other partygoers chanted “light it, light it, see what it does” as the oil was poured over Simpson and a partygoer held up a cigarette lighter.

Sheard flicked the lighter and Steven went up in flames with Sheard and others running away instead of helping him.

A judge heard how he was told to take off his shirt and encouraged to dance around before having obscenities scrawled on his body.

Reportedly paramedics arrived at the home where Mr Simpson lived alone, they found homophobic messages scrawled on his body, including the words “gay boy” written on his forehead in pen and “I love dick” scrawled across his chest, the court heard.

Simpson had Asperger’s syndrome, a speech impairment and epilepsy.

Sheard initially tried to blame Steven for setting himself on fire, but eventually confessed.

A number of local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates said they believed Sheard’s prison term to be too lenient, but prosecuting attorney Tim Warburton nonetheless told The Star that the sentence was “within the range of what would be expected had it been considered a hate crime,” and that it would not be appealed.

“This was a cruel case of bullying based on Steven’s sexuality and disability,” Warburton is quoted as saying. “While we accept Jordan did not intend to kill Steven, his actions did lead to his death.”

Meanwhile, Sheard’s attorney said his client had been “deeply and significantly affected by what he has done and the tragic consequences that ensued,” which describing Simpson’s death as a “stupid prank that went wrong in a bad way,” the Daily Mail noted.










http://www.theglobaldispatch.com/jordan ... rty-43755/


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1000Knives
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25 Mar 2013, 6:27 pm

I love how sentencing can be so arbitrary in America. 3.5 years for maybe some kind of vehicular thing perhaps is appropriate, but I'd say this is more of a murder 2 or 3. I know a kid who's doing 7 right now for manslaughter for killing someone in a fight, and it certainly wasn't a case of him torturing, erm, harmlessly pranking someone to death, either.

Also, warning to people with Aspergers. Don't have friends. They'll do stupid s**t like this to you. Be hyper-vigilant and don't trust anyone.



sinsboldly
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25 Mar 2013, 6:31 pm

1000Knives wrote:
I love how sentencing can be so arbitrary in America. 3.5 years for maybe some kind of vehicular thing perhaps is appropriate, but I'd say this is more of a murder 2 or 3. I know a kid who's doing 7 right now for manslaughter for killing someone in a fight, and it certainly wasn't a case of him torturing, erm, harmlessly pranking someone to death, either.

Also, warning to people with Aspergers. Don't have friends. They'll do stupid sh** like this to you. Be hyper-vigilant and don't trust anyone.


umm. . . just so you know, this was in the UK


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25 Mar 2013, 6:43 pm

I suppose there are a lot of things that could have been tried in both civil and criminal court, but murder 1 or 2 doesn't fit since he it cannot be proven that he was going to set the victim aflame, and without the death being proven to be a deliberate "hate crime", such sentencing enhancements don't fit. Whether or not hate crime laws should exist is another thread for another time. All that could be proven is that the defendant did something grossly negligent that got someone killed. Within the letter of the law, the sentence fits. I suppose civil claims could still be filed by the victims family, but that might not be cost effective.


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1000Knives
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25 Mar 2013, 6:46 pm

sinsboldly wrote:
1000Knives wrote:
I love how sentencing can be so arbitrary in America. 3.5 years for maybe some kind of vehicular thing perhaps is appropriate, but I'd say this is more of a murder 2 or 3. I know a kid who's doing 7 right now for manslaughter for killing someone in a fight, and it certainly wasn't a case of him torturing, erm, harmlessly pranking someone to death, either.

Also, warning to people with Aspergers. Don't have friends. They'll do stupid sh** like this to you. Be hyper-vigilant and don't trust anyone.


umm. . . just so you know, this was in the UK


Yeah I saw the Daily Mail thing after. Now because the Daily Mail reports on American news pretty often, yeah. Eh, 3.5 years is pretty normal for Britain, actually. Still outraged, but yeah. Not out of the ordinary for UK. Still, sometimes weird sentences like this happen in America. Like there was a rather infamous one where a guy got only probation for running over a Gothic kid in the 90s with his car on purpose. I think it was in Texas. So if this happened in USA, I'd not be surprised.

UK seems crazily different, though. You'll get 5 years for what'd be a murder 2 worth 20 to life here in the States.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Brian_Deneke



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25 Mar 2013, 6:56 pm

I love how sentencing of criminals can be so bloody arbitrary in South Yorkshire, U.K. ...

Quote:
Passing sentence, Judge Roger Keen told Sheard that the evening had involved "good-natured horseplay" but that putting a flame to a man doused in flammable fluid was "a highly dangerous act". He also regarded the decision to run away as "serious aggravation" in setting the jail term.

No, REALLY?

Since when does being "good-natured" make the "highly dangerous" act of killing someone by setting them on fire okay, while running away is just enough of a "serious aggravation" to inspire only 42 months in jail?

Here in the States, this would be at least a Second-Degree Capital offense, and with the aggravating circumstances of the victim's A.S. and the yob's running away to let his victim die would mean an automatic sentence of between 20 years and life in prison, with maybe a chance at parole after 7 years.

Was alcohol involved?

By this I mean, was "His Honour's" B.A.C. so far over the legal limit that it affected his judgment?



Last edited by Fnord on 25 Mar 2013, 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sinsboldly
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25 Mar 2013, 7:01 pm

http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/local/bar ... -1-5521116

Quote:
By claire lewis Crime Reporter
Published on Friday 22 March 2013 07:02

CAMPAIGNERS said today they are ‘disturbed by the leniency’ shown to a killer who scrawled gay taunts on an autistic boy’s face and body - before setting him alight at his own 18th birthday party.

Steven Simpson, who had Asperger’s Syndrome, epilepsy and a speech impairment, was doused in tanning oil before Jordan Sheard flicked a lighter close to his groin, engulfing him in flames.

A paramedic reported seeing lipstick smudged on Steven’s face, and the words ‘gay boy’ on his forehead in pen.

After the blaze Sheard fled, and claimed Steven - who died two days later from 60 per cent burns - had set himself on fire.

Eventually he confessed, and pleaded guilty at Sheffield Crown Court to manslaughter.

Jailing him for three years and six months, Judge Roger Keen QC told Sheard: “At his 18th birthday party you destroyed Steven’s life.”

But the judge said taunting which led up to Steven’s death had been ‘good-natured horseplay’, and that Sheard, now 20, of Darfield Road, Cudworth, was ‘egged on’ by other partygoers.

Today human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said: “This is a shocking, violent abuse of a vulnerable young disabled gay man.

“The sentence is outrageously lenient for this protracted series of homophobic insults, which culminated in Steven’s death.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay equality charity Stonewall, said: “The leniency with which the killer has been treated is disturbing.”

And Carol Povey, director of the Centre for Autism at The National Autistic Society, said: “It is vital disability hate crimes are punished with the same severity as other hate crimes.”

The Crown Prosecution Service said it had wanted to prosecute the tragedy as a hate crime - but added: “The judge did not agree and sentenced accordingly.”

Tim Warburton, the CPS prosecuting lawyer, said: “This was a cruel case of bullying based on Steven’s sexuality and disability. Steven had significant learning difficulties but was getting on well, and had recently started college where he was studying life skills.

“On his course he made some new friends and decided to have a few of them over to his house to celebrate his 18th birthday.

“The focus of the party quickly turned to Steven and his sexuality. He was encouraged to take off his shirt and dance around, he had obscene pictures and writing scrawled on his body, and he was sprayed with suntan oil.

“Had the horseplay ended there we may have had a different story to tell today. Sadly it didn’t.

“While we accept Jordan did not intend to kill Steven, his actions did lead to his death.

“His disability and sexuality were used as weapons against him, with the group of friends taking advantage of his naivety.”

But the CPS stopped short of saying they would appeal the sentence, adding: “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.”

Sarah Wright, prosecuting, said Steven threw the party for himself last June at the flat on Pleasant View, Cudworth, Barnsley, where he lived alone. One of his neighbours made a buffet, but initially no-one turned up.

A neighbour who popped in to check on Steven noticed shaving foam in his hair and red pen on his arm, but said the teenager ‘seemed to be enjoying himself’.

The high jinx went too far when tanning lotion was doused over Steven in his bedroom.

“Steven did not object to being covered in oil, rather the opposite,” said Sarah Wright, prosecuting. “Then Jordan Sheard took out a lighter and held it to Steven’s groin, and he went up in flames.”

Neighbour Shaun Banner, who had also called in to check on Steven, witnessed the horrific aftermath. He ripped off the teenager’s burning clothing, injuring himself, and placed Steven in a cool bath while waiting for paramedics to arrive.

Andrew Smith, defending Sheard, said: “He knows he has done something very stupid. His part in the death of a decent person is never going to go away.”

Det Chf Insp Sean Middleton said: “Steven was described by all who knew him as a 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.


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25 Mar 2013, 7:43 pm

Fnord wrote:
I love how sentencing of criminals can be so bloody arbitrary in South Yorkshire, U.K. ...

Quote:
Passing sentence, Judge Roger Keen told Sheard that the evening had involved "good-natured horseplay" but that putting a flame to a man doused in flammable fluid was "a highly dangerous act". He also regarded the decision to run away as "serious aggravation" in setting the jail term.

No, REALLY?

Since when does being "good-natured" make the "highly dangerous" act of killing someone by setting them on fire okay, while running away is just enough of a "serious aggravation" to inspire only 42 months in jail?

Here in the States, this would be at least a Second-Degree Capital offense, and with the aggravating circumstances of the victim's A.S. and the yob's running away to let his victim die would mean an automatic sentence of between 20 years and life in prison, with maybe a chance at parole after 7 years.

Was alcohol involved?

By this I mean, was "His Honour's" B.A.C. so far over the legal limit that it affected his judgment?


Yes, alchohol was involved - the murder was drunk when he lit Simpson on fire. I don't know how drunk the murderer was. And I don't think the supposedly "good-natured" part of the crime or the alchohol excuses what happened.

And by the way, everyone, there are already two other threads on this subject here on the site.

Here's the one in the LGBT section of the forums:
gay aspie burned alive at his 18th birthday party

And here's the one in the News and Current Events section of the forums:
steven-simpson-gay-teen-burned-birthday

I just figured it would be a good thing to point that out.



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26 Mar 2013, 11:34 am

1000Knives wrote:
Also, warning to people with Aspergers. Don't have friends. They'll do stupid sh** like this to you.

Don't be ridiculous. For a start, these people were not his friends. Then secondly, most people don't set other people on fire. Stop scaremongering.

1000Knives wrote:
sinsboldly wrote:
1000Knives wrote:
I love how sentencing can be so arbitrary in America. 3.5 years for maybe some kind of vehicular thing perhaps is appropriate, but I'd say this is more of a murder 2 or 3. I know a kid who's doing 7 right now for manslaughter for killing someone in a fight, and it certainly wasn't a case of him torturing, erm, harmlessly pranking someone to death, either.

Also, warning to people with Aspergers. Don't have friends. They'll do stupid sh** like this to you. Be hyper-vigilant and don't trust anyone.


umm. . . just so you know, this was in the UK


Yeah I saw the Daily Mail thing after. Now because the Daily Mail reports on American news pretty often, yeah. Eh, 3.5 years is pretty normal for Britain, actually. Still outraged, but yeah. Not out of the ordinary for UK. Still, sometimes weird sentences like this happen in America. Like there was a rather infamous one where a guy got only probation for running over a Gothic kid in the 90s with his car on purpose. I think it was in Texas. So if this happened in USA, I'd not be surprised.

UK seems crazily different, though. You'll get 5 years for what'd be a murder 2 worth 20 to life here in the States.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Brian_Deneke

All murderers get sentenced to life in prison in the UK. There is a minimum term set which usually starts at 15 years.

In this case, it seems that it has been decided there was no pre-meditation, and for whatever reason the crime was a serious manslaughter rather than a murder (so the title is misleading). Obviously we don't know all the ins and outs. As a comparison, a man who hit a friend once "with moderate force" for an explicable reason received a one year prison sentence, so it isn't as if the judge has gone "horseplay, and disabled people aren't really people, so minimum term".



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26 Mar 2013, 12:17 pm

^
Is murder determined by intent or premeditation? If the second is correct wouldn't "premeditated murder" be a pleonasm?

Could someone more familiar with the British laws shed some light?



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26 Mar 2013, 4:22 pm

BenderRodriguez wrote:
^
Is murder determined by intent or premeditation? If the second is correct wouldn't "premeditated murder" be a pleonasm?

Could someone more familiar with the British laws shed some light?

Intent, but you don't need to intend to murder. You don't even have to intend to harm if serious harm is virtually certain to occur as a result of your actions. However, at the same time, it is possible to have the intention but still not be guilty of murder, if you are mentally ill, for example.



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26 Mar 2013, 5:59 pm

BenderRodriguez wrote:
^
Is murder determined by intent or premeditation? If the second is correct wouldn't "premeditated murder" be a pleonasm?

Could someone more familiar with the British laws shed some light?

Murder 1 requires premeditation. Murder 2 requires intent that wasn't premeditated. Manslaughter is a broader definition that involves a criminally negligent accident, such as killing someone in a fistfight or doing something that common sense would dictate would be likely to get someone killed, but without intending anyone to get hurt. Alcohol-inspired ideas gone wrong tend to fall under the umbrella of manslaughter. In this case, it sounds like the oil made flammable fumes and this did not occur to the drunk defendant with the lighter.


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26 Mar 2013, 6:00 pm

The_Walrus wrote:
BenderRodriguez wrote:
^
Is murder determined by intent or premeditation? If the second is correct wouldn't "premeditated murder" be a pleonasm?

Could someone more familiar with the British laws shed some light?

Intent, but you don't need to intend to murder. You don't even have to intend to harm if serious harm is virtually certain to occur as a result of your actions. However, at the same time, it is possible to have the intention but still not be guilty of murder, if you are mentally ill, for example.


I see, thank you.

In this case I don't understand why they ruled "manslaughter" - there was no premeditation but I can't see how setting someone on fire can leave much doubt about intent.



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26 Mar 2013, 6:07 pm

John_Browning wrote:
BenderRodriguez wrote:
^
Is murder determined by intent or premeditation? If the second is correct wouldn't "premeditated murder" be a pleonasm?

Could someone more familiar with the British laws shed some light?

Murder 1 requires premeditation. Murder 2 requires intent that wasn't premeditated. Manslaughter is a broader definition that involves a criminally negligent accident, such as killing someone in a fistfight or doing something that common sense would dictate would be likely to get someone killed, but without intending anyone to get hurt. Alcohol-inspired ideas gone wrong tend to fall under the umbrella of manslaughter. In this case, it sounds like the oil made flammable fumes and this did not occur to the drunk defendant with the lighter.


Thank you, that's very informative.

It sounds like a "stupidity plea" to me and seems to have worked. I have to wonder about a judge who considers what happened there beside the setting on fire part "good natured horseplay", I hope for their sake the good people in South Yorkshire don't share that opinion.



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26 Mar 2013, 7:02 pm

BenderRodriguez wrote:
I see, thank you.

In this case I don't understand why they ruled "manslaughter" - there was no premeditation but I can't see how setting someone on fire can leave much doubt about intent.


Remember, this isn't the plain English meaning of "intent." This is the legal definition, that has been shaped by centuries of jurisprudence in England & Wales and the rest of the Common Law world.

The most important issue is that you need to distinguish between, "specific intent," and, "general intent." Murder requires not only the general intention of, say, striking the match and igniting the fluid, but also the specific intention to cause death or (in some jurisdictions) to cause harm and being reckless as to whether or not death ensues. There are many ways in which specific intention could have been missing, including diminished capacity caused by drunkenness.

Where the specific intention to kill (whether premeditated or spontaneous) is absent, then the included, general intent offence of manslaughter is still available to criminalize the behaviour.

And let's bear in mind, the judge effectively had the decision taken away from him. If the prosecutor chooses not to pursue the accusation of murder, the court cannot second guess the Crown's decision. If the accused pleads guilty to manslaughter, the court cannot (absent particular circumstances) vacate that plea. The judge was presented with a fait accompli and a set of sentencing guidelines.


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26 Mar 2013, 7:07 pm

Dragoness wrote:
And by the way, everyone, there are already two other threads on this subject here on the site.

I just figured it would be a good thing to point that out.


thanks, Dragoness. I appreciate your thoroughness.

Merle


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