Police involved in the Stefan Pakeerah murder case have revealed that the copy of Manhunt at the centre of a tabloid media frenzy last week was found in the possession of the victim, not the killer.
Newspapers and TV news channels gave significant coverage to the case last week, when the mother of the victim claimed that 17-year-old killer Warren LeBlanc had been "obsessed" with the ultra-violent Rockstar game.
However, according to a spokesperson for Leicestershire Constabulary, the police division which investigated the murder, the link is even more tenuous than was reported previously - with the game being found not in the room of the murderer, but of the victim.
"The video game was not found in Warren LeBlanc's room, it was found in Stefan Pakeerah's room," the spokesperson said today. "Leicestershire Constabulary stands by its response that police investigations did not uncover any connections to the video game, the motive for the incident was robbery."
While it's still entirely plausible that LeBlanc was obsessed with the game, as he and Pakeerah were friends, this new information does raise questions about how the 14-year-old Pakeerah was able to obtain a copy of the 18-rated game; and also about the conduct of the British media in reporting on the story.
The tabloid press, in particular the extremist right-wing Daily Mail newspaper, have already been heavily criticised for ignoring the police reports and prosecution statements which gave the motive for the murder as robbery, with LeBlanc killing his younger friend in order to pay back a drugs-related debt. Few tabloid stories made any mention of the drugs angle.
The news will also pour cold water on the intentions of American lawyer Jack Thompson, infamous for his chasing of cases relating to what he judges to be immoral media. Thompson apparently plans to bring a major lawsuit on behalf of the Pakeerah family against Rockstar; the revelation that the game belonged to their son, not to the killer, may well mean that this case is quietly dropped.