Two teenagers sentenced to life over murder of Goth

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The Independent Online

Two teenage boys have been jailed for life for murdering a young woman in a park because she was dressed as a Goth.

Sophie Lancaster, 20, was kicked and stamped to death as she begged the pair to stop beating her boyfriend in Bacup, Lancashire, in August last year.

Ryan Herbert, 16, from Bacup, who admitted murder, received a 16-year minimum term. His accomplice Brendan Harris, 15, also from Bacup, who was convicted after a trial last month, was given a minimum of 18 years.

Passing sentence, Judge Anthony Russell QC said: "This was feral thuggery. It raises serious questions about the sort of society which exists in this country at the start of a new millennium which was heralded with such optimism."

Ms Lancaster cradled her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, 21, in her arms as she begged the two to stop beating him in Stubbylee Park. Her pleas were ignored as Harris kicked her in the head and Herbert kicked her in the face "like a ball in flight". Both victims fell into comas but Ms Lancaster never regained consciousness and died 13 days later.

Neither of the killers knew the couple, who were both dressed as Goths, and the only motive was they simply looked different from them. The judge told Harris and Herbert: "This was a terrible case which has shocked and outraged all who have heard about it. At least wild animals, when they hunt in packs, have a legitimate reason for so doing, to obtain food. You have none and your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself."

Three other teenagers who took part in the initial attack on Mr Maltby – brothers Joseph, 17, and Danny Hulme, 16, both of Whitworth, near Bacup; and Daniel Mallett, 17, of Bacup, all pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent. They did not take part in the attack on Ms Lancaster.

Mallett was jailed for four years and four months and the Hulme brothers got five years and 10 months each.