Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend were attacked by Ryan Herbert on Saturday 11th August 2007 while walking through a park. They were attacked simply because they were ‘goths’. Their head injuries were so severe that police and medics could not at first ascertain which one was male and which was female.
Sophie ended up in a coma, and on 24th August, she lost her battle, and her family let her go into the darkness of death.
Ryan Herbert was aged 16 when he was jailed for life in 2008 for Sophie’s murder, and the Parole Board have decided that Herbert can now be released on licence.
Reacting to the decision, Sophie’s mother, Sylvia Lancaster, said: “Once again, we have a justice system that fails to deliver justice.” She said the original sentence reflected the “level of violence” her daughter was subjected to during a “feral” attack.
Herbert admitted both murder and assault, causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He was jailed for a minimum term of 16 years and three months. This was later reduced to 15 and a half years. In February 2020, this was further reduced to 14 and a half years, making him eligible for parole consideration this year.
The Parole Board’s ruling found Herbert had made “significant changes to his life which reflected his remorse, his insight and increased maturity”.
Sylvia Lancaster said she did not understand the decision, just “because they have done well in prison,” saying that the Parole Board knew “the reality of the level of violence” against Sophie.
Brendan Harris, who was found guilty of Sophie’s murder in 2008, was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years. He also admitted the attack on Robert Maltby, who Sophie died trying to protect.