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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 18:10 GMT 19:10 UK
Manhunt game withdrawn by stores
Stefan Pakeerah
Stefan was repeatedly battered and stabbed by his older friend
A number of high street retailers have taken the violent computer game Manhunt off their shelves.

The move comes after the parents of a schoolboy murdered by a friend blamed the game for their son's death.

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

Stefan's parent's claimed Leblanc had been obsessed by the game but standards bodies have rejected the link.

We are taking it off the shelves with immediate effect
Dixons spokesperson

Patrick Pakeerah, Stefan's father, welcomed the decision to withdraw the game from sale.

He said: "It's a video instruction on how to murder somebody, it just shows how you kill people and what weapons you use.

"If we can stop another family having to go through what we're going through now, by taking this games and games of this nature off the shelves, then we would have achieved something and Stefan wouldn't have died in vain."

Leblanc had savagely beaten his victim with a claw hammer and stabbed him repeatedly after luring him to a local park.

Leicester Crown Court heard the defendant had planned to rob Stefan.

However, Stefan's mother, Giselle, claimed Leblanc had been obsessed by the game, which awards points for savage killings.

Still from Manhunt
Manhunt should only be sold to people aged 18 and over
"When one looks at what Warren did to Stephan and looks at the brutality and viciousness of the game one can see links," she said

She said teenagers, who lack the psychological maturity of adults, play the games, even though they are aimed at over-18s.

And she said she was "ecstatic" about Dixon's decision to stop selling the game.

A spokeswoman for Dixons said on Thursday: "We are taking it off the shelves with immediate effect."

In addition to the Dixons Group Plc, which includes PC World and Currys, video game specialist Game announced that it had taken Manhunt off its shelves as a mark of respect.

Other stores including WH Smith are debating whether to stop selling the game.

A statement from the game's publishers Rockstar North said: "We extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by these tragic events.

"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 ages 18 and older.

Those aged eight years or below do in the short-term re-enact or copy what they see on the screen
Professor Mark Griffiths, Nottingham Trent University

"Rockstar Games submits every game for certification to the BBFC - British Board of Film Certification and clearly marks the game with the BBFC-approved rating."

A spokesperson for the British Board of Film Classification said the game had been given an 18 certificate.

It was also the board's opinion that there were no issues of harm attached to the game and there was no evidence directly linking the playing of games with violent behaviour.

The Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers' Association, the voluntary standards body for the video game industry, said: "We sympathise enormously 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 Manhunt."

Professor Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, a psychology expert, said more research was needed into how violent video games can influence the behaviour of adolescents.

He said: "Research has shown those aged eight years or below do in the short-term re-enact or copy what they see on the screen.

"But there's been no longitudinal research following adolescents over a longer period, looking at how gaming violence might affect their behaviour."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Giselle Pakeerah, Stefan's mother
"Let's get the things off the shelves"



SEE ALSO:
Grand Theft Auto comes under fire
04 May 04  |  Scotland
Blaming the dark side of gaming
07 Feb 04  |  Technology
Video games back in US dock
15 Sep 03  |  Technology
Shoot-em-ups in firing line
07 Jan 02  |  Entertainment


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