Lancashire

Sophie Lancaster murder: Goth killer's sentence appeal rejected

Sophie Lancaster Image copyright PA
Image caption Sophie Lancaster was begging the gang to stop attacking her boyfriend

A killer who beat a woman to death because she was dressed as a Goth has failed to get his sentence reduced.

Ryan Herbert, who murdered Sophie Lancaster in 2007, was ordered to serve a minimum 15-year jail term.

His lawyers told the High Court his "unexpected and substantial progress" in prison justified a cut in the amount of time he should serve.

But a judge rejected his plea on Thursday, saying nothing he had done would justify an early release.

Ms Lancaster, 20, died 13 days after being battered by Herbert and his friend Brendan Harris as she tried to protect her boyfriend Robert Maltby from being attacked in Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire.

'Severe' attack

Image copyright Lancashire Police
Image caption Ryan Herbert was 16 and Brendan Harris was 15 when they murdered Sophie Lancaster

Lawyers for Herbert, now 24, who admitted the murder at Preston Crown Court in 2008, argued for the reduction in his minimum term, citing a positive change in his behaviour and attitude.

After initially getting involved in fights and attacking staff in prison, Herbert started to show signs of change in 2012, Mr Justice Langstaff said.

He had taken two GCSEs, started the first year of an Open University degree in social sciences and was described as a "positive young man" who was a hard-worker with a full-time job in the institution.

In his judgment, Justice Langstaff said Herbert had done only what was expected of all life prisoners and his progress had not been exceptional.

The judge reminded the court of the brutality of the attack, saying it was "so severe" that "it was not immediately possible for ambulance personnel to tell which sex" either of the victims was.

He said "one of the disturbing features" is that "the group of assailants immediately afterwards behaved as if they were proud of what they had done, almost boasting of it."

"Having reviewed the term, in the light of such development and progress as there has been, I have ultimately concluded that the tariff should remain as originally set."

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