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Daily Star pulls "GTA Rothbury" story

"You would think I'd denied the Holocaust," says writer who asked victim's relative for comment on fictional game

UK tabloid the Daily Star has been the subject of criticism, following the publication of an online story in which it claimed the next Grand Theft Auto game would document the Raoul Moat tragedy.

The newspaper appears to have interpreted a mocked-up cover of the non-existent game as the real thing. Although writer Jerry Lawton has published no details of his further inquiries into 'GTA Rothbury', or of where he obtained the apparently Photoshopped box art from, he did seek a response to the fabricated title from the 69-year-old grandmother of one of Moat's victims.

"It is sick - it's blood money," Ann Hornsby told Lawton. "The game is beyond belief."

Following outrage across social networks and gaming sites, the Daily Star last night removed the story, although the faked image remained on its site's front page for some time.

However, Lawton remained seemingly unaware the GTA Rothbury was not a real product, with gaming blog Destructoid discovering a status update on his Facebook page claiming that he was "Baffled by the fury of adult gamers.

"These are grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another who've today chosen to enter the real world just long enough to complain about my story slamming a Raoul Moat version of Grand Theft Auto!"

Despite having decried the fictional game as doing so, he then proceeded to mock real-life violence. "You would think I'd denied the Holocaust!!! Think I'll challenge them to a virtual reality duel....stab....I win!!!"

Lawton, who in the withdrawn article also talked of "fury" over film companies "lining up the rights" to an adaptation of Moat's story (according to an unnamed source), has since changed his Facebook privacy settings, though the list of his favourite movies remains public. Titles include Taxi Driver, The Godfather, Goodfellas, Pulp Fiction and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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