One of Sophie Lancaster’s killers has been deemed “suitable” to be released from prison after 15 years.
Sophie died at the age of 20 after being “savagely and mercilessly attacked” by a gang of teenage boys whilst coming to the aid of her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, when the pair were walking through Stubbylee Park in Bacup during the early hours of 11 August 2007.
The gang lunged at Robert and then struck Sophie as she tried to protect him, leaving Robert in a coma as a result of the attack.
Sophie sadly never recovered, however, and died from her injuries 14 days later.
According to court hearings that followed the horrific attacks, it appeared that the young couple were attacked because they looked and dressed like goths.
Now, one of Sophie’s killers, Ryan Herbert – who was 16 when he was handed a life sentence after admitting to murdering the 20-year-old, and also pleaded guilty to assault causing grievous bodily harm (GBH) with intent to Robert Maltby – is to be freed from prison after he was given a minimum term of 16 years and three months.
Herbert first had his sentence reduced to 15 years after and appeal, and then had his tariff cut to 14-and-a-half years in 2020 when a High Court judge concluded that he had made “exceptional progress” in jail.
Now, the Parole Board have decided Herbert can be released from prison on licence, 15 years after he took part in the attack.
The Parole Board said they found Herbert had made “significant changes to his life which reflected his remorse, his insight and increased maturity”, and added in a document setting out the decision that: “After considering the circumstances of his offending and examining the evidence for the progress made while in custody, the panel was satisfied that Mr Herbert was suitable for release.”
The document continued: “No concerns about compliance had been identified and Mr Herbert had good working relationships with professional staff.”
Witnesses, including his probation officer, recommended he be released on licence.
Sophie’s mother, Sylvia Lancaster – who launched a foundation in her daughter’s memory to stand against violence and prejudice – said in a statement: “I’m obviously very disappointed in the result of the parole hearing [as] once again, we have a justice system that fails to deliver justice, however much progress people make in prison, they have been given their sentence in recognition of the extent of their crime.
“The judge at the murder trial described the attack on Sophie as “feral”, with the attackers’ behaviour “savage and merciless” [and] her injuries were so severe, the paramedics attending the scene could not facially distinguish if she were male or female.
“How can you bear knowing the reality of the level of violence my daughter was subjected to, and stack that up against reducing the minimum tariff because they have done well in prison? However they have progressed, the minimum justice for the family is them serving the sentence they were given.
“Her attackers may not have been given a life sentence, but I have.”
Sir David Jason set for TV return in Only Fools and Horses documentary Christmas special
In a surprise bit of festive news, the only and only Sir David Jason is returning for an Only Fools and Horses Christmas special this December. Lovely jubbly!
The best-loved and most-watched British comedy of all time will be back on our screens in documentary form this festive season, with Del Boy himself David Jason revisiting the iconic comedy character after 20 years he last played him on screen.
While the legendary sitcom was broadcast on BBC back in the day, the highly-anticipated Only Fools doc will be airing on Channel 5 right before Christmas as a special one-off programme.
Looking back on the show’s incredible run on UK screens over seven series and the several ‘Christmas Cracker’ specials, specifically, the latest Only Fools and Horses documentary will see Jason and a number of other guests appearing to chat about the legendary show.
While it’s still unclear how many of the original cast will be appearing, Jason’s on-screen wife Tessa Peake-Jones (Raquel) is confirmed to be appearing along with other special guests including newscaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Bendiorm‘s Sherrie Hewson.
Sadly, a full theatrical reunion just isn’t on the cards following the deaths of Roger Lloyd Pack (Trigger), Kenneth MacDonald (Mike the Landlord) and Buster Merryfield (Uncle Albert) in the 30 years since the show ended its run.
Only Fools writer John Sullivan also sadly passed away aged 64 in 2011 and fellow co-star Nicholas Lyndhurst, a.k.a. Rodney Trotter, told Metro: “We can’t. John is no longer with us. John was the driving force of the show and we have also lost quite a few cast members now.
“I don’t think I could do it without them and I certainly couldn’t do it without John. At the risk of depressing everyone, I think the last two times I’ve seen David has been at funerals.”
Simply entitled, ‘The Story Of Only Fools And Horses At Christmas’, the 90-minute special is yet to have its broadcast date fully confirmed but you best keep your eyes peeled on the TV guide — we’ll let you know as soon we do.
Jason, 81, has only just recovered from hip surgery earlier this year, so it’ll be nice to see his familiar grin back on our screens.
Right, we’re off to binge a whole series on UK Gold.
Habas restaurant in Manchester announces shock closure – with huge closing-down discount
Habas, the Middle Eastern restaurant launched by the team behind El Gato Negro, has announced its shock closure.
The subterranean restaurant will be going out with a bang though, promising one last knees-up with a big discount.
Habas will be doing 25% off its entire food and drink menu this New Year’s Eve so that fans of the eatery can raise a glass to the Manchester restaurant.
They’re also hoping that Mancs will raise a glass to new beginnings, teasing a brand new concept.
Habas is located at Brown Street in Manchester city centre and has been serving up its Middle Eastern menu since 2021.
It comes from Mills Hill Developments Limited, the company also responsible for El Gato Negro and Canto, fronted by celebrated chef Simon Shaw.
Habas has stressed that its closure ‘is not forever’ as it announces details of its New Year’s Eve closing down party.
You can ring in the new year with a selection of mezze dishes, sharing platters and small plates, feasting on chicken tagine and traditional tzatziki, all 25% off on Sunday 31 December.
Drinks, too, like the cranberry elderflower martini, blackberry ginger smash and clementine daquiri will be with 25% off.
Simon Shaw, Chef Parton at Mills Hill Developments Limited, said: “As of January 2024, we have made the decision to close the doors of Habas Bar & Restaurant, however we are thrilled to announce that our Brown Street venue has an exciting new concept on the way.
“Throughout December, Habas, will continue serving up the city’s best middle-eastern cuisine, so make sure you pop in and see us. AND on New Year’s Eve, Habas, will be hosting an unforgettable celebration with 25% off food and drinks. We want to rejoice with all of our customers, with one final hurrah!
“We would like to thank all of our guests and reassure Habas fans that this is not the end of Habas Bar & Restaurant forever, simply a farewell from Brown Street for now.
“We look forward to welcoming you to our new exciting concept in Q1 of 2024.”