Horseplay: Live at Calais Migrants Benefit, August 2014

On 23rd June 2012, Steven Simpson, a gay autistic student, was verbally abused, stripped, and his body scrawled with offensive slogans. He was then doused in tanning oil and 20-year-old Jordan Sheard set fire to his crotch with a cigarette lighter. The flames engulfed his body, his attackers fleeing as neighbours tried desperately to extinguish the flames. Steven died the next day suffering 60% burns.

Steven was murdered because of his sexuality and disability. However, on 21st March 2013 at Sheffield Crown Court, Judge Roger Keen dismissed the crime as “good-natured horseplay” that had “gone too far” and sentenced Sheard to only three-and-a-half years in prison. Sheard’s lawyer described Steven’s killing as a “stupid prank that went wrong in a bad way”.

This poem considers what might happen if we turned the tables on the unjust judges.

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