April 28, 2008 / 4:15 PM / 10 years ago

Two get life for "Goth" murder

LONDON (Reuters) - Two teenagers who kicked a woman to death in a park because she was dressed as a “Goth” were jailed for life on Monday, police said.

A combination image showing Brendan Harris (L) and Ryan Herbert. REUTERS/Lancashire Constabulary/Handout

Brendan Harris, 15, and Ryan Herbert, 16, kicked and punched Sophie Lancaster in what police described as a “despicable, cowardly and totally unprovoked” attack.

They set upon the 20-year-old gap year student when she tried to stop a group of youths from attacking her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, 21. The pair were left unconscious.

Lancaster’s injuries were so bad that it was difficult at first to tell what sex she was, police said.

She fell into a coma and died two weeks after the attack. Her boyfriend was also left in a coma, but has since been discharged from hospital.

Sophie Lancaster is seen in an undated police handout photo, released to Reuters on March 27, 2008. REUTERS/Lancashire Constabulary/Handout

A jury at Preston Crown Court heard that the couple were attacked in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, last August, because they were wearing “Goth” clothing.

Detective Superintendent Mick Gradwell said: ”Sophie and Rob were savagely and mercilessly attacked.

“The attack was despicable, cowardly and totally unprovoked and it would appear that both were targeted, not for anything that they said or did, but because they looked and dressed differently to the defendants and their friends.”

Harris must serve 18 years for murder and Herbert 16 years.

Judge Anthony Russell lifted an order preventing the identification of three other youths who admitted causing grievous bodily harm.

Daniel Mallett, 17, must serve at least four years, while brothers Joseph Hulme, 17 and Danny Hulme, 16, were each sentenced to five years.

Reporting by Peter Griffiths

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