Two teenagers were given life sentences today for murdering 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster because she was a goth.
Passing sentence the judge called the murder a "hate crime" against completely harmless people because of their appearance.
Ryan Herbert, 16, who had pleaded guilty before the trial started last month, was jailed for life today at Preston crown court and ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years. His accomplice, Brendan Harris, 15, who was found guilty at trial, was given a life sentence with a minimum of 18 years.
Passing sentence today, Judge Anthony Russell QC, told the defendants he thought their behaviour in court had been unacceptable and described it as "swaggering".
"I noticed the wink that one of you exchanged with the public gallery when the murder charge was not proceeded with against you and that one of you thought it appropriate to shout out 'love you mum".'
Detectives investigating the murder criticised the conduct of the defendants and their families throughout the criminal proceedings as "appalling".
Harris and his mother were said to have been "laughing and joking" when they were first interviewed about the incident.
Harris, of Spring Terrace, Bacup, had denied the murder charge but pleaded guilty to assault causing grievous bodily harm to Maltby.
Herbert, of Rossendale Crescent, Bacup, pleaded guilty to murder and assault.
During the trial it also emerged that Harris had been convicted of kicking and stamping on a 16-year-old in April 2007. He and Herbert, who was also involved, were given six-month community sentences.
Brothers Joseph, 17, and Danny Hulme, 16, both of Landgate, Whitworth, near Bacup, and Daniel Mallett, 17, of Rockcliffe Drive, Bacup, all pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent on Maltby. They did not take part in the attack on Sophie, the court was told.
This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Monday April 28 2008. It was last updated at 17:35 on April 28 2008.
I have posted this section of the article because I do not want the names of these evil monsters to be forgotten. Sophie is dead and will never have the opportunity to experience all the joys and sorrows that life may bring. The chances are that all the convicted will be back out on the streets at some point, in the case of those who pleaded guilty to GBH probably in not more than 5 years. They will still have the opportunity to laugh and cry and experience. Will they ever feel regret? I doubt it. Will they ever feel remorse? Unlikely. So what will have been gained? Very little. This makes the whole situation even sadder. It also demands that we as a society look into our hearts and decide once and for all what the value of a life is. I, for one, hope that all those who were involved in this viscious, callous and cowardly attack have miserable lives full of pain and suffering.