A British man has been sentenced to two and a half years in jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter for burning to death an 18-year-old gay teen.
Steven Simpson, who was gay and suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, died after receiving burns to over 60 percent of his body.
While at his 18th birthday party, Simpson became drunk and had homophobic insults scrawled on his arm and stomach, told to strip to his boxers and encouraged to dance around.
The BBC reports Simpson was then covered in tanning oil and Jordan Sheard, a 20-year-old at the party, held a cigarette lighter to the teen’s groin. The flammable liquid quickly caught on fire. Instead of helping Simpson, Sheard ran away. The flames were put out by a neighbor and Simpson was taken to the hospital where he would later pass away from his injuries.
The prosecutor in the case, Sarah Wright, said that what was described as “good natured fun” at the expense of a mentally vulnerable person was actually “cruel behavior” toward someone who was an easy target. Simpson had just started college and thought his party would make him new friends.
Sheard’s lawyer Andrew Smith said his client’s actions were a “criminally stupid prank that went wrong in a bad way.”
Detective Chief Inspector Sean Middleton said Simpson was described by all who know him 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,” Middleton said.