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Video sales boom saddens murder victim's mother.

A grieving mother who is campaigning for a video game linked to her son's murder to be banned said she was 'saddened' yesterday by news it has sold out across much of the country.

Giselle Pakeerah branded Manhunt 'contemptible' and said the publicity surrounding the trial of her son's murderer last week had created the sales boom.

The 36-year-old NHS research worker, of Leicester, has blamed the 'serial murder simulation' for the death of her 14-year-old son Stefan.

Warren Leblanc, 17, of Braunstone Frith, Leicester, has pleaded guilty to Stefan's murder in February this year.

He had savagely beaten his friend with a claw hammer and stabbed him repeatedly after luring him to a local park to rob him.

It emerged yesterday that Manhunt has been flying off the shelves of stores across the UK as gamers rush to buy it before it is banned.

Ms Pakeerah said, 'It doesn't really come as surprise. They say no publicity is bad publicity. But I must say I'm saddened and disappointed.

'The content of this game is contemptible. It's a societal hazard and my concern is to get it off the shelves as there's enough violence in society already.'

HMV, one of the only major high street retailers currently selling Manhunt, said demand for the game had 'significantly increased' at its 200 stores. Manhunt was yesterday sold out at the chain's branches in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and Belfast.

And HMV stores in London's Leicester Square and Oxford Circus and Aberdeen have recently restocked after running out of copies last week.

The Dixons Group last week withdrew the game from its Dixons, Currys and PC World stores, while Game and Virgin Megastores have also pulled Manhunt.

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said,

'The great irony is that since it came out last year, sales of Manhunt had been negligible. People who had never heard of the game now want to buy it. Many think it's going to be banned and that lends a certain cache.'

Mr Castaldo said HMV had not followed Dixons' example in withdrawing the game because it did not believe it should act as a censor. But the chain's bosses have warned staff at its branches throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland to be aware of its 18 certificate.

Sales of the game, which retails for between pounds 19.99 and pounds 39.99, have also been brisk at online auction house eBay.

Many vendors on the website mistakenly claim Manhunt, which is made by Edinburgh-based Rockstar Games, has been banned.

A spokesperson for Rockstar Games was unavailable for comment.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 5, 2004
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