He wasn’t murdered. No, he just had anti-gay hate messages sprawled on his stomach, face, and arm. He then had his groin set on fire. Oh, that didn’t kill the man. No, he survived in what I can only imagine being the worst possible pain until the next day, when he died at the hospital. The person who did this act didn’t try to put out the fire (according to the Daily Mail), but instead ran away. In fact, nobody tried to put the fire out until a neighbor – not at this party – intervened. Then the murderer tried to say that the man lit himself on fire.
Again, from the Daily Mail:
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’.
No, homophobic insults and trying to humiliate a vulnerable person is not “good natured horseplay.” Certainly lighting a man’s groin on fire goes beyond “dangerous act.”
The murderer received 3.5 years for manslaughter.
Let me help out judges and prosecutors everywhere by giving some definitions and examples:
Prank or “Good-Natured Horseplay”
- Something that the person it is done to will laugh with you about.
- Typically does not involve having racist, bigoted, or homophobic statements intended to humiliate you.
- Does not involve inflicting intentional great pain
- Is reciprocal – you might prank me as a friend, and I might pull a prank of similar magnitude on you later
- Done by friends
- If it goes wrong, people stick around and help. There is deep concern when this happens.
- Oh, pranks are funny, not hate-fueled.
- Might involve fire
- Murderer typically does not want to face consequences
- Persons committing it do not provide medical help to the victim
- Sometimes fueled by hate, bigotry, and homophobia
I’d add that anyone that can hear someone who must have been in the pain Steven was in screaming and crying for help and then turn their back and leave…well, that’s not good-natured fun. That is also, IMHO, murder.
I am glad a neighbor showed Steven some humanity and did his best to help, even to the point of receiving his own burns. That’s what anyone should be expected to do, but when it mattered only Sean Banner did it. The murderers (referred to as pranksters by the defense attorney) didn’t help and didn’t care about the human they tortured and killed.
My prayers are with the family of Steven, who lost someone they loved and haven’t seen justice. I can’t imagine what that is like.