A young British man has been sentenced to 3 ½ years in prison after pleading guilty to manslaughter charges in the death of an openly gay, autistic teen at his birthday party last year by dousing him in oil and setting him on fire.
Steven Simpson, 18, suffered burns to 60 percent of his body when 20-year-old Jordan Sheard set him on fire at a party Simpson threw for himself at his home on June 22, 2012. reported the Daily Mail.
Simpson died from “significant burns” in a hospital two days later.
The court heard that as Simpson became increasingly drunk at his party, he was dared to strip to his boxer shorts. Sheard, who had crashed the house party, was seen taunting Simpson, and then scrawling obscene and homophobic insults on his bare stomach, face and forearm.
In the early morning hours of June 23, Sheard took a bottle of Calypso tanning oil from Simpson’s bedroom and, as it was poured over him, others chanted: “Light it, light it.”
The court heard that Sheard then held a cigarette lighter to Simpson’s groin, and the highly flammable liquid instantly caught fire, and flames engulfed Simpson’s body.
When paramedics arrived, they also found the homophobic messages scrawled on Simpson’s body, including the words “gay boy” written on his forehead, and “I love dick” scrawled across his chest.
Sheard initially denied causing Simpson’s death, but later confessed to setting his teen’s groin on fire after pouring tanning oil on him. He said he was encouraged to do it by other partygoers.
Judge Roger Keen, in accepting that Simpson’s death was accidental, 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.”
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.”