Mother of Sophie Lancaster calls murderer’s move to open prison ‘unjust’

The mother of Sophie Lancaster – a young girl who was killed for ‘dressing like a goth’ – has denounced the decision to move one of her murderers to an open prison.

Sophie, aged 20, died in 2007 after being attacked by a gang of teenage boys whilst coming to the aid of her boyfriend Robert Maltby in Bacup.

A group of thugs had followed the pair as they walked through Stubbylee Park in the early hours of 11 August 2007, lunging at Robert and then striking Sophie as she tried to protect him.

Robert was left in a coma as a result of the attack. Sophie never recovered and died from her injuries 13 days later.

Five were arrested following the assault.

Ryan Herbert, then 16, was one of two handed a life sentence for murder.

However, it was confirmed back in February that Herbert could see an early release from prison due to ‘good behaviour’.

Following a parole board hearing, he is now set to move to an open prison in more relaxed conditions, with the ability to apply for release on parole in February 2022 – 15 years after the murder took place.

Sophie’s mother, Sylvia, has condemned the decision.

According to Lancs Live, she said: “Anyone who has lost a loved one to violence knows that the law and justice are different things. I know he is on his journey through the system, but my beautiful daughter lost her life and we can have no respite from that loss.

“Days like today are hard to bear – you feel overwhelmed again with the injustice and unfairness of it all. It is particularly hard to hear in August, as we face the anniversaries of the attack and of the day we lost her.”

During sentencing, Judge Anthony Russell QC had recommended Herbert serve at least 16 years and three months.

In his closing remarks he stated: “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.”