Video game taken off shelves after boy's death

 

A number of Irish video game retailers have taken the computer game, Manhunt, off their shelves after the parents of a schoolboy in the UK who was murdered by a friend blamed the game for their son's death. Daniel McConnell reports.

Warren Leblanc (17), of Braunstone Frith, Leicester, pleaded guilty on Wednesday to the murder of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah in February 2004.

Stefan's parents had told the court that they believed Leblanc had been obsessed by the game.

Leblanc had allegedly replicated a move in the game when he beat his victim with a claw hammer and stabbed him repeatedly after luring him to a park.

The game, which gives greater rewards the more gruesome the killing, has been pulled off the shelves both in Ireland and the UK in the wake of the court case.

A spokeswoman for Dixons Ireland said yesterday: "In the 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 believe that immediate withdrawal of the game is the appropriate step in the circumstances."

A video game specialist, Game, announced that it had also taken Manhunt off its shelves as a mark of respect, while HMV has initiated a strict identification policy to anyone interested in buying the game.

The game's publisher, Rockstar North, said: "Rockstar Games is a leading publisher of interactive entertainment geared towards mature audiences and markets its games responsibly, targeting advertising and marketing only to adult consumers aged 18 and older."

The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers' Association, the voluntary standards body for the video-game industry, said: "We sympathise with the family and parents of Stefan Pakeerah. However, we reject any suggestion or association between the tragic events and the sale of the video game."