Court of Appeal refuses to lengthen ‘lenient’ sentence of man who burnt gay teenager to death

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The Court of Appeal has refused to alter a three and a half year sentence handed down to Jordan Sheard, the killer of gay teenager Steven Simpson.

On Wednesday, Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Keith and Judge Goss QC of the Court of Appeal in London ruled that they would not “interfere with the sentence of three and a half years detention in a young offender institution” given to Jordan Sheard.

The justices added: “It would not be fair or right to penalise him at this stage.”

But they also stated that the Crown Prosecution Service had not provided all of the evidence against Sheard during the trial, and certain witnesses were not called upon.

“The responsibility for the failure to call evidence rests with the Crown,” the justices said.

In March, Sheffield Crown Court jailed Sheard, 20, from Cudworth, South Yorkshire, for the manslaughter of Steven Simpson.

He was sentenced to three and a half years by Judge Roger Keen.

However, several people – including the charity Stop Hate UK – subsequently asked the Attorney General Dominic Grieve to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal, on the basis that it was unduly lenient.

The Attorney General’s Office confirmed to on 18 April that Mr Grieve had indeed decided to refer the sentence to the Court of Appeal.

Steven died after sustaining 60% burns in June 2012 when Sheard coated the teenager in tanning oil and then set his genitals on fire during his 18th birthday party.

He died the next day in hospital, speaking to his dad before he passed away.

Sheard initially tried to blame Steven, who lived alone and had Asperger syndrome, for setting himself on fire.

The victim was bullied at the party over his disability and the fact he was gay, before being dared to strip to his boxers. He was described by a witness as being “easily influenced”.

Lady Justice Rafferty said: “He was vulnerable – he suffered Asperger’s syndrome, was speech-impaired, epileptic, and had learning difficulties. He lived alone in a flat and attended Barnsley College and a youth club. Openly gay, he was described as sociable, with a large circle of friends, a very nice lad who wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

The decision of the justices not to lengthen Sheard’s three and a half year sentence was met with disappointment by gay rights charity Stonewall on Wednesday afternoon.