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Sophie's family and friends vow to carry on campaign
FRIENDS and family of a student kicked to death because of her Goth looks have vowed to carry on campaigning for official recognition of subculture-based hate crime.
Sophie Lancaster, 20, and her boyfriend Robert Maltby, 21, were attacked in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, in August last year because of the way they were dressed.
Sophie, a former pupil at Haslingden High School, was well known for her bright dreadlocks and facial piercings.
Jailing her teenage two killers for life, Judge Anthony Russell said the couple were specifically targeted because of their appearance.
He said he recognised it as a hate crime without Parliament having to tell him to do so, and had included that view in his sentencing.
But organisers behind the SOPHIE (Stamp Out Prejudice and Hatred Everywhere) campaign said they want to see the law changed so that all courts will operate the same system.
Their calls come as a reveller was left with a fractured jaw after being attacked leaving a Sophie memorial gig in Lincolnshire - because of his Goth get-up.
Sophie's mother, youth worker Sylvia Lancaster said she still believed new laws were needed to tackle hate crime committed because of a person's clothing or style.
She said: "It was the fact that Sophie and Robert were dressed the way they were and that they were with a gang of young people who were dressed differently that they were singled out. What we want to try and do is widen the Hate Crime Bill to include young people from different sub cultures or who dress differently."
37-year-old Ade Varney, from Birmingham, was responsible for starting the on-line parliament petition to change the Hate Crime Bill following Sophie's death. It was signed by 7,152 people before it closed on March 8.
Mr Varney said: "I did not know Sophie personally but I have thought alot about her. I have been disgusted by the case, which is why I started the petition.
"We will continue to put our heads together to come up with ideas as to how we can try and stop this. The police need to be educated so that they can filter crimes which have been committed simply because of the way a person looks."
Mr Varney, a Goth since he was 17, said: "We get verbal assaults every day, and not just from young people. We need to go to parliament again with evidence collected to show that this is a regular occurrence and have the laws changed."
Brendan Harris, 15, of Spring Terrace, Bacup, who was convicted of Sophie's murder after a trial last month, was ordered to serve a minimum of 18 years.
Ryan Herbert, 16, of Rossendale Crescent, Bacup, who admitted murder, received a 16-year tariff.