This posting is really simply to record that five boys were sentenced today for the murder of Goth woman Sophie Lancaster in Bacup, Lancashire on 11th August 2007. Brendan Harris aged 15 and Ryan Herbert, 16 both received life sentences and Harris must serve a minimum of 18 years and Herbert 16 years, the judge said. Three others were sentenced for greivous bodily harm: Joseph Hulme aged 17 received five years and ten months, Danny Hulme aged 16 received five years and ten months and Daniel Mallett aged 17 received four years and four months.
Robert Maltby, Sophie's boyfriend, the intial focus of the attack, and put into a coma for it is now terrified to leave the house. Adam Lancaster, Sophie's brother thanked people for their support. Sylvia Lancaster, Sophie's mother said justice could not be done because any sentence could not bring her daughter back.
The judge noted how the attack had been mindless and had stemmed from almost a kind of entertainment for the five boys. The only ray of hope is that these boys were caught and will serve long sentences and hopefully the message of the consequences of such violence will penetrate the thick skulls of other boys tempted to behave in the same way. However much these boys might have thought they were tough men, they never understood that forever they will remain boys, because a man keeps control of his emotions and does not use his strength to cause harm, especially in the name of entertainment.
You can find pictures of the five boys online and it is clear that they are chavs. Much has been made of the Chav-Goth conflict, but in general it has always been more talked about and imagined than carried out. It is about definitions of young people, the thuggish, brainless youth despising those with a little more brains and a lot more culture. It is about choosing between going with the crowd, increasingly into drugs, underage sex, binge drinking and violence from both sexes or choosing a more distinctive path in order to make your statement about who you are. The bulk of UK society no matter what age they are pick the Chav option and as a consequence British society is sick. It helps foster the evil in boys like Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert and let us say their names but only associated with what they are: utter scum.
The killing of Sophie Lancaster has to be seen in the context of numerous violent deaths of young people in the UK, some of the most notable being the murders of Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Rhys Jones but these are just a few of the most prominent. The internet and local newspapers are filled weekly with stabbings and kickings to death predominantly of young people. In one town I was staying in recently two young men were kicked to death in the same street on the same evening in separate incidents and this was a southern English resort town, not inner-city Manchester or London. In the UK you can now be killed for being keen on football, going to a library, being the 'wrong' colour, being gay, in the wrong place at the wrong time, glancing at someone, or dressing in black clothing and dark make-up and walking home with your boyfriend. These 'offences' are sufficient in the UK to warrant your death at the hands of multiple killers.
Yet these killers will lose, they will not stamp out the spirit of youth and the courage of people to live the life they want. Think of Sophie Lancaster and what she could have been and what she could have enjoyed. Use that sense to dismiss the moronic thugs who are trying to crush who so many people in the UK are. When you emerge from your homes visibly a Goth, feel her spirit with you and walk proud.