Boy, 15, murdered student 'because she was a Goth'

A 15-year-old boy has been found guilty of murder for his part in gang attack that ended with a 20-year-old woman being kicked to death simply because she was a Goth.

Brendan Harris, whose identity was protected during the trial, set upon Sophie Lancaster – who dressed in the dark clothes and wore distinctive facial make-up associated with Goths – after he and four other youths had assaulted her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, 21.

The attack happened in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, Lancashire, last August.

Preston Crown Court heard the gang had "acted like a pack of animals" and had decided to attack the pair "just because they were different".

Harris, who had pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm but denied murder, was found guilty and will now be sentenced with the four other youths, who had earlier pleaded guilty to the murder. Harris, Ryan Herbert, 16, two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old who cannot be named, will be sentenced on 28 April.

The court heard that Harris attacked Ms Lancaster as she begged him and four other youths to stop beating her boyfriend. Ms Lancaster, a gap-year student, died from serious head injuries two weeks after the attack. Mr Maltby, also a Goth, survived.

After his girlfriend's death, Mr Maltby said he wished the gang had killed him instead. "She was my entire world," he said. "I'm not ashamed to say that.

"Everything I was doing outside being around Sophie was really just to make it so we could have a decent life together and just when we have tried that hard, we have put in so much effort, some child comes along and decides to ruin it all for you, it is just not fair.

"I just really wish Sophie had just legged it and got out of there and waited until they had left but I just wish she had left me to die if I'm honest."

And outside the court, speaking after the verdict, Ms Lancaster's mother, Sylvia, paid tribute to her daughter and said her death should serve as a wake-up call to a society which she believes suffers from a lack of tolerance. Mrs Lancaster said: "Sophie's death was a tragedy in so many ways. First, obviously, I have lost an adoring and adorable daughter. She was intelligent, brave, courageous and had a social conscience beyond her years.

"Her death has ruined the lives of those responsible as well as the lives of their families. On a wider scale it is a tragedy for a society that, in the past, prided itself on its tolerance. I am convinced Sophie was killed simply because of the way she looked. She did not necessarily conform to the ideals of those who took her life.

"Perhaps we should see it as an opportunity to examine how all of us, particularly younger people, can become blinkered. I believe that today, more than ever, we need to show respect."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

£18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

£28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map