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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Man bullied to his death, court hears

6-13-2007 United Kingdom:
A man with severe learning difficulties was subjected to hours of violent torture before being forced to eat 70 paracetamol tablets and bullied off a viaduct where he fell to his death, a British court heard today.

Steven Hoskin was beaten, forced to wear a dog collar and "walked" around on a lead and forced to confess to being a paedophile before he was killed on July 6th last year.

Mr Hoskin, 39, who was illiterate and had the reading ability of a six-year-old, suffered hours of "terrifying torture" at the hands of Darren Stewart, Martin Pollard and three teenagers who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr Hoskin, from St Austell, Cornwall, had taken an IQ test three years before his death and came in the bottom 0.4% of the country.

Stewart, 30, Pollard, 21 and a 17-year-old girl, all from the St Austell area, deny murder. The three have pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm and Stewart and Pollard have pleaded guilty to a charge of false imprisonment.

Two teenage boys, a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, deny assault occasioning actual bodily harm and all three teenagers deny false imprisonment. Stewart also denies one charge of intimidating a witness.

At Truro Crown Court, Cornwall, prosecutor Sarah Munro QC said that Mr Hoskin's 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."

"These five treated Steven Hoskin like a slave in his own flat," she said. "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".

After the initial violent abuse had finished, the court heard that the two teenage boys and Pollard left the flat.

Stewart and the teenage girl then forced Mr Hoskin to eat the tablets, the court heard. Ms Munro said that when Pollard returned to the scene, and with Mr Hoskin clearly sick, the three then hatched a plan as to how he should die.

The court heard that at about midnight they took him on a 20-minute walk to the top of a viaduct.

Ms Munro said: "Steven Hoskin fell 35 metres, 100 feet, from a viaduct.

"He was forced and bullied into falling to his death.

"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 was adjourned until tomorrow. ..more.. by The Irish Times

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