Stores withdraw computer game linked to boy's killing

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The Independent Online

The retail chain Dixons took the violent computer game Manhunt off its shelves yesterday after it was blamed for influencing a teenage murderer.

The retail chain Dixons took the violent computer game Manhunt off its shelves yesterday after it was blamed for influencing a teenage murderer.

The move came after the parents of a murdered schoolboy said his killer, an older friend, was obsessed with the PlayStation 2 game, in which a man roams a city's streets slaughtering everyone he meets.

Warren Leblanc, 17, of Braunstone Frith, Leicester, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the murder of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah in February. Leblanc had beaten his victim with a claw hammer and stabbed him repeatedly after luring him to a local park. Leicester Crown Court heard that the defendant had planned to rob Stefan.

A statement by the Dixons Group said: "In light of the tragic events reported in today's media, we have taken the decision to withdraw the Manhunt game from sale at Dixons, Currys and PC World. We are taking it [Manhunt] off the shelves with immediate effect."

Patricia Hewitt, the Trade and Industry Secretary, also said yesterday that more needed to be done to protect youngsters. The Leicester West MP said she had been keeping an eye on the case because the Pakeerah family lived in her constituency.

She said: "I have kept in close touch with Giselle Pakeerah since the brutal murder of her son, Stefan, and my deepest sympathies are with her and her family ... as a mother I share her anxiety about the violent computer games that too many teenagers are exposed to.

"It is illegal for retailers to sell these games to under-18s, but we all need to do more ... to protect our young people from immersing themselves in images of extreme violence."

Stefan's father, Patrick, 41, welcomed Dixons' decision, saying: "I think that's great news that they have taken it off their shelves. In my opinion, I think this game has contributed to Stefan's death so games like this should not be sold to minors, or anybody for that matter. You are supposed to get some sort of pleasure from playing this game, but it's not pleasurable to go around killing people."

Chris Atkinson, a policy adviser at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "Parents need to be on their guard against children developing obsessions with particular games. Some of these games are extremely disturbing and are just not appropriate for children. It is also important that parents talk to their children about the games available ... involving children in the selection process will give them a sense of responsibility."