A TEENAGE witness has told how he stemmed the flow of blood from Sophie Lancaster's face.

The boy, 16, told Preston Crown Court that moments before he had pleaded with the gang to stop their attack on Sophie and her boyfriend Robert Maltby.

Former Haslingden High School pupils Sophie and Robert were attacked by a "savage and merciless" gang of youths who targeted them in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, last August because they were dressed like goths, Preston Crown Court has been told.

College students Sophie and Robert, who lived together in King Street, Bacup, were kicked and stamped on in the head, leaving them with such bad facial injuries that paramedics could not tell their sexes, Michael Shorrock QC has told the jury.

The boy, 16, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told of the moment before the attack when the group, who had been chatting to Robert and Sophie, suddenly turned violent.

He said one of the defendants said: "We'll bang them."

The boy told the jury: "I said to him No we won't'. I said no one's going to touch them'. They had both been really nice."

He said the defendant, a 15-year-old boy who denies murder, punched Robert, knocking him to the floor before others started kicking him.

The boy said he saw the 16-year-old boy, who has pleaded guilty to Sophie's murder, pick Robert up off the floor and say: "Do you want an ambulance?"

When Rob replied no', the witness said the boy knocked him to the floor with a punch.

The boy said he saw the 15-year-old charged with murder kick Sophie in the back which knocked her over.

He told the court he tried to intervene and shouted Oi! Stop it. Step off him'.

The boy said he then took a tearful girl who had made the 999 call away from the scene, saying: "You can't watch this."

The boy, who described Robert and Sophie as moshers', said he removed his T-shirt to try and stem the flow of blood pouring from Sophie's face.

Jurors were also told how he, on the instruction of a 999 operator, put the pair into the recovery position to prevent them choking on their own blood.

Sophie, who also went to Stonefold Primary School, Rising Bridge, died two weeks later after never regaining consciousness while Robert has so far made what Mr Shorrock described as a "partial recovery".

During cross examination with Andrew O'Byrne, defending, the boy told the court he was friends with the 16-year-old who has admitted murder.

Mr O'Byrne said to the witness: "He's in custody right? He's written to you in fact while in custody.

"When you were interviewed by the police you knew that Sophie Lancaster had died and you knew that the two defendants were in custody in relation to that overall incident on the park.

"But your recollection is that you did not see your friend do anything to Sophie Lancaster.

"I suggest to you that the defendant did not in fact attack Sophie Lancaster and that you are mistaken.

"And I would suggest it was the defendant that pulled your mate off."

The witness replied that he had not seen any of that.