…or was it the increasingly lax justice system?
Yesterday, as Sheppard was jailed after admitting murder, a judge made a scathing attack on parents who allow teenagers to drink underage.
Judge Neil Ford, QC, said Sheppard and the girls had earlier drunk ‘a large quantity of quite strong alcohol’ at one of the girls’ houses.
Despite the girl’s mother being present, the group had been allowed to get drunk on Malibu, Peach Schnapps and Cactus Jack.
Well, she was probably blotto too!
Sentencing Sheppard to a minimum of 12 years and three months, Judge Ford said: ‘This is yet another case where those with parental responsibility fail to appreciate or care about the dis-inhibiting effects of alcohol, effects which in this case have been truly devastating.
‘I appreciate that it is not easy for parents to control the behaviour of teenagers. But this case yet again demonstrates the tragic consequences which can result from heavy consumption of alcohol by young people.’
He told Sheppard, now 18: ‘I have no doubt that your use of alcohol and or drugs contributed deeply to your behaviour on that night.’
So…it was the demon drink that turned a respectable young man into a killer, was it?
Sheppard was on licence at the time of the offence, having robbed three boys of their mobile phones in March 2013. He has previous convictions for possessing an offensive weapon and handling stolen goods.
I guess that’s a ‘no’, then? Maybe if the justice system had been less inclined to tolerate thuggish behaviour, the victim would still be alive.
Mind you, at least the judge didn’t sneer about the lack of effect of the victim impact statement, so I suppose we should be grateful for small mercies…