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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 August, 2004, 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK
Manhunt game 'flying off shelves'
Stefan Pakeerah
Stefan was repeatedly battered and stabbed by his older friend
A computer game linked to the violent murder of a teenager has sold out of stores across the UK.

The parents of 14-year-old Stefan Pakeerah, claim his murderer had been inspired by the Manhunt game, although police have denied any link.

A number of major high street stores have withdrawn the game from sale. But at HMV, where it is on sale, demand has "significantly increased".

Stefan's family said they were "saddened" people still bought the game.

"It doesn't really come as surprise. They say no publicity is bad publicity. But I must say I'm saddened and disappointed," said Giselle Pakeera, Stefan's mother.

Many think it's going to be banned and that lends a certain cachet
Gennaro Castaldo, HMV spokesman
"The content of this game is contemptible. It's a societal hazard and my concern is to get it off the shelves as there's enough violence in society already."

Manhunt has sold out at HMV's branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Belfast.

And HMV stores in London's Leicester Square and Oxford Circus and Aberdeen have recently restocked after running out of copies last week.

Stefan's family blamed the "serial murder simulation" for the death of their son.

However, Leicestershire Police said their investigations did not uncover any links with the game and said the motive for the murder had been robbery.

Raised profile

Warren Leblanc, 17, of Braunstone Frith, Leicester, last week pleaded guilty to Stefan's murder in February this year.

He had savagely beaten his friend with a claw hammer and stabbed him repeatedly after luring him to a local park to rob him.

Still from Manhunt
Manhunt should only be sold to people aged 18 and over
The Dixons Group last week withdrew the game from its Dixons, Currys and PC World stores, while Game and Virgin Megastores have also pulled Manhunt.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "Interest in Manhunt has significantly increased for all the wrong reasons. It's flying off the shelves.

"The great irony is that since it came out last year, sales of Manhunt had been negligible.

"People who had never heard of the game now want to buy it. Many think it's going to be banned and that lends a certain cachet."

Mr Castaldo said HMV had not followed Dixons example in withdrawing the game because it did not believe it should act as a censor.

Sales of the game have also been brisk at online auction house eBay, where many vendors mistakenly claim Manhunt has been banned.

Academic opinion over whether such games can affect adolescents is mixed, but many researchers say watching violent cartoons or games does alter younger children's behaviour in the short term.

Game blamed for hammer murder
29 Jul 04  |  Leicestershire
Manhunt game withdrawn by stores
29 Jul 04  |  Leicestershire
Blaming the dark side of gaming
07 Feb 04  |  Technology

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