[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 June 2007, 12:25 GMT 13:25 UK
Man 'bullied to death' by gang
Trenance Road viaduct
Mr Hoskin had the reading ability of a six-year-old
A man with learning difficulties was made to eat 70 paracetamol tablets and forced off a viaduct where he fell to his death, Truro Crown Court heard.

Steven Hoskin, 39, from Cornwall, was beaten, forced to wear a dog collar and made to confess to being a paedophile, the court heard.

Darren Stewart, 30, Martin Pollard, 21, and a 17-year-old girl all from St Austell, deny murdering Mr Hoskin.

Mr Stewart and Mr Pollard have admitted false imprisonment and assault.

The 17-year-old also pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Two boys, aged 16 and 17, deny assault and all three teenagers deny false imprisonment.

Mr Stewart also denies intimidating a witness.

'Should be hung'

Mr Hoskin, who had the reading ability of a six-year-old, died on 6 July last year. He had taken an IQ test three years before his death where he came in the bottom 0.4% in the country.

Prosecutor Sarah Munro QC said that Mr Hoskin was an easy target and the gang attacked him, throwing objects and stubbing cigarettes out on his head.

"His death came at the end of an evening during which he was subjected to hours of humiliating, painful and terrifying torment, violence and abuse in which all five played a part," she said.

He was easy pickings for bullies, he was the perfect target
Prosecutor Sarah Munro

"These five treated Steven Hoskin like a slave in his own flat. They literally treated him like a dog, forced to wear his own dog's collar and lead. They found it funny."

Ms Munro told the court that Mr Hoskin was forced to confess he was a paedophile and made to sit on the floor under graffiti that read "nonce" and "should be hung". The court heard how, after the initial violent abuse had finished, the two teenage boys and Mr Pollard left the flat.

Mr Stewart and the teenage girl then forced Mr Hoskin to eat the paracetamol tablets. When Mr Pollard returned, the trio took him to a viaduct where Mr Hoskin fell 35m (100ft).

"He was forced and bullied into falling to his death," said Ms Munro.

"Add to that the fact that over the months his will, his ability to stand up to anyone, had been completely overridden by the treatment he had received.

"He was easy pickings for bullies, he was the perfect target."

The trial continues.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific