AN autistic teenager who died after being set alight at his 18th birthday party is to be commemorated - on the day he would have turned 19.

Barnsley College student Steven Simpson, 18, of Pleasant View, Cudworth, suffered 60 per cent burns when a flame was put to his tanning oil soaked body at his party last June. He died two days later.

Now his mother, Bernadette, is arranging a celebration of her son's life. At the same time, she is awaiting the outcome of a court hearing to decide if the man who admitted Steven's manslaughter will be given a tougher sentence.

Mrs Simpson, 44, has struggled to come to terms with Steven's death and has started volunteering with Age UK to try and distract herself.

"I was having anxiety attacks and have been very down," she said. She has also moved from Cudworth to Carlton.

"Steven was a lovely, gentle person and wouldn't want me to be sad," she said. "But I am dreading the event in a way. We miss him so much."

In March, Sheffield Crown Court heard that Steven - who had Asperger's Syndrome and learning difficulties - was targeted at his 18th birthday party due to his disability and sexuality.

He was egged on to strip off while tanning oil was poured over him and Jordan Sheard, 20, of Darfield Road, Cudworth, put a flame to his genitals.

Sheard was given a three-and-a-half-year jail sentence after admitting manslaughter, but following a campaign by anti-discrimination pressure groups, his sentence was re-examined by the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC. He judged it not tough enough and referred it to the Criminal Appeal Court.

Last Thursday, the appeal court reserved judgement on the case at the end of an hour-long hearing. A decision will be handed down at a date yet to be set.


Steven's memorial event will be at Monk Bretton WMC on June 22.