Monday, April 28, 2008

Murderers get life - Judge says it was a "Hate Crime"

The sentenancing can be summed up as follows.Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert were both 15 at the time of the murder in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, on 11 August 2007. Harris was senteced to life with a tariff of 18 years and Herbert was sentenced to life with a tariff of 16 years.
Daniel Mallet, Joseph Hulme and Danny Hulme pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent on Mr Maltby. Mallett was jailed for four years and four months and the Hulme brothers to five years and 10 months each.

Plenty of news coverage:

Boys sentenced over Goth murder BBC News,
Sophie Lancaster's 'goth killers' receive life sentences,
'Feral thugs' jailed for murder of 'Goth' student Sophie Lancaster Times Online

The statement by the Judge is important:

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. 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."... Mr Maltby still bears physical and emotional scars from the attack...

Judge Russell said both victims were totally innocent, and described the goth community as "perfectly peaceful law-abiding people who pose no threat to anybody". He added: "The intolerance you displayed in this case is shocking evidence of the attitudes of some of our people. "I am satisfied having heard all the
evidence there was an intention by each of you to inflict severe pain and suffering.

"This was a hate crime against these completely harmless people targeted because their appearance was different to yours."

He described Sophie as a caring young woman who wrote poetry and read books and had charmed many people. "Her tragic fate has touched many hearts," he added.

Feral' teenagers jailed for murdering Goth

Meanwhile in a Crown Prosecution Service statement they say:
"The murder of Sophie Lancaster and the vicious attack on her boyfriend,
Robert Maltby, stand out for their utter pointlessness and sheer brutality.
Worse still, it seems very likely that the attack started as a form of amusement
for those involved.
"There is no doubt that Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert
attacked Miss Lancaster and Mr Maltby simply because the couple were Goths and
dressed differently. We believe this is unacceptable and the prosecution made it
clear that Miss Lancaster and Mr Maltby were singled out not for anything they
said or did but because of their dress.

Manwhile in Whitby the bench was officialy opened with a massive crowd:
A CROWD of more than 500 people gathered on the West Cliff on Saturday, together with the heartbroken mother of murdered goth Sophie Lancaster, to celebrate her life... Sophie's mum Sylvia told the Whitby Gazette she was amazed at the sheer
number of people who attended the weekend's ceremony led by Ade Varney, a goth
who is campaigning to include offences against people based on their appearance
or subcultural interests in the definition of hate crime.She told the Whitby
Gazette: "I was just amazed."It was just wonderful really."So many people had
taken that time out to come and remember. I didn't really expect that."The
support has been amazing and not just from this country but worldwide."Ade
Varney led the service."He read a poem and talked about what went on and talked
about the campaign."Mrs Lancaster said Whitby Gothic Weekend is a lesson for how
people should treat each other."Sophie was always very interested in Whitby from
a young age."She used to read Graham Taylor's books."You can just be yourself
and that's what it's about."We went to the goth ball on Saturday night and
people actually didn't know who I was."We went dead straight. They were just
brilliant with us. We chatted and all the rest of it."It would be wonderful if
that atmosphere could be spread. There's no reason why it can't."What we are
trying to do with the S.O.P.H.I.E campaign is to raise awareness in young people
to treat people with respect."It's about what you are. It's not what you look
like, it doesn't mean anything."Hopefully we are going to highlight specific
differences and show young people are all the same under their skin."Mrs
Lancaster said she plans to return to Whitby for the next gothic weekend with
her husband John in October.As Sophie's killers were due to be sentenced she
said whatever sentence they get it will never be enough.The plaque on the bench
reads: "In memory of Sophie Lancaster 26th November 1986 – 24th August 2007 – an angel too soon." Mum pays tribute to Sophie Lancaster after Whitby Goth Weekend Whitby Today, 29 April 2008

In Basingstoke a Sophi festival gets a good review:
REVIEW: SOPHIE weekender at The Great Western this is

And in Newcastle another gig:
PROG rock band STRANGERS IN POLAROIDS will be at the Head of Steam ...ChronicleLive, UK - 23 Apr 2008

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