Controversial computer game Grand Theft Auto has been blamed for influencing a teenage sex attacker who assaulted four women.
It is alleged that 19-year-old Ryan Chinnery stalked the streets of Ashford, Kent looking for women he thought were prostitutes. When he found them he beat them up, in a fashion similar to the 'missions' taken on by players of the popular video game.
Prosecutor Eleanor Laws said Chinnery's love of Grand Theft Auto "may go some way to explaining his attitude towards women".
"There may be some connection with the defendant admitting spending a lot of time playing that game," she said.
Once again Grand Theft Auto is being made a scapegoat because of our need to portion blame in a crime like this. In reality Grand Theft Auto is no more responsible for these crimes than horror films such as 'Nightmare on Elm Street' and 'Scream' are in encouraging serial killers to go on the rampage, or in fact a gangsta rap lyric about guns in promoting violence in youth gang culture.
Sadly, unhinged individuals such as Chinnery will commit crimes with or without computer games, films or rap lyrics because, unlike 99 percent of us, they are unable to distinguish between real life and fantasy - and the behaviour which is acceptable in both instances. Banning these games, films and lyrics won't prevent the crimes, it'll only serve to punish the rest of us.
Visit PC Advisor's dedicated Games website to download hundreds of the latest titles, to read gaming news and reviews and to pick up tips and discuss your favourite games in the popular PC Advisor Games forum