Torched teenager: South Yorks killer’s ‘lenient’ sentence challenged

Victim Steven Simpson, who died after he was set alight at his party.

Victim Steven Simpson, who died after he was set alight at his party.

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The Court of Appeal is to look at the case of a South Yorkshire man who set a teenager on fire as he celebrated his 18th birthday.

Stop Hate UK asked Attorney General Dominic Grieve to examine the case of Jordan Sheard, who was jailed for three years and six months for an attack on 18-year-old Steven Simpson, who was homosexual and had Asperger’s syndrome and epilepsy.

During a birthday party he threw at his flat on Pleasant View, Cudworth, Barnsley, in June last year, Steven had gay taunts scrawled over his body.

He was doused in tanning oil before Sheard flicked a lighter close to his groin, engulfing him in flames.

Steven died two days after the attack after suffering burns to 60 per cent of his body.

Sheard, aged 20, of Darfield Road, Cudworth, admitted manslaughter.

Tim Warburton, the CPS prosecuting lawyer, said it was a ‘cruel case of bullying based on Steven’s sexuality and disability’.

But Judge Roger Keen QC described the taunting before Steven was set alight as ‘good-natured horseplay’.

A Stop Hate UK spokeswoman said: Stop Hate UK wrote to the Attorney General to request the sentence be referred to the Court of Appeal as unduly lenient.

“This campaign was supported by a number of other organisations, groups and individuals, many of whom wrote their own letters to the Attorney General.

“In particular, the Disability Hate Crime Network rallied support from its members and other networks to galvanise this campaign.

“Stop Hate UK is delighted to announce Mr Grieve has decided to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.

“The Court of Appeal will hear the case in about five or six weeks time and decide whether the sentence was unduly lenient.

“If the Court of Appeal is of the opinion the sentence was unduly lenient, Sheard will be resentenced for the offence and the sentence increased.”

A spokesman for the Attorney General said the case was referred after being ‘carefully reviewed’.

The spokesman said: “The Attorney General has decided to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal for review as a possibly unduly lenient sentence. The case will be heard by three Court of Appeal judges who will decide whether or not to increase the sentence.”