Page last updated at 18:52 GMT, Tuesday, 7 October 2008 19:52 UK

Appeal over Goth murder sentence

Sophie Lancaster and Robert Maltby
Miss Lancaster was attacked as she cradled her boyfriend

A gang of five youths who attacked a couple because they were Goths have appealed against their sentences.

Sophie Lancaster, 20, was kicked and stamped to death by Brendan Harris, 16, and Ryan Herbert, 16, in Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire, last summer.

The pair turned on her as she tried to stop them and three other youths from attacking her boyfriend Robert Maltby.

The appeal judges heard cases on behalf of all five youths but will make their decision at a date yet to be announced.

The hearing, which involved more than two hours of legal arguments on behalf of the offenders, was held in the Court of Appeal in London in front of Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, sitting with Mr Justice Owen and Mr Justice Christopher Clarke.

In April, Harris, who was convicted of Miss Lancaster's murder after a trial, was sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum term of 18 years before he can apply for parole.

Herbert, who pleaded guilty to murder before the trial, was also sentenced to life with a minimum of 16 years and three months.

Ryan Herbert (left) and Brendan Harris
Herbert and Harris kicked and stamped Ms Lancaster to death
The pair were also convicted of causing grievous bodily harm with intent over the attack on Mr Maltby, who has been left mentally and physically scarred by his ordeal.

Brothers Joseph, 18, and Danny Hulme, 16, were sentenced to five years and 10 months each for their parts in the attack, while Daniel Mallett, 18, was sentenced to four years and four months.

The three appeal judges were urged in all cases to find that the sentences imposed were too long, mainly in view of their ages.

At the close of the hearing Lord Judge said the court had decided to take time to consider "our judgment and our reasons in this case".

On passing sentence at Preston Crown Court in April, Judge Anthony Russell QC described the attack in August 2007 as "feral thuggery" and said the boys' behaviour "degrades humanity itself".

Miss Lancaster died in hospital 13 days after the attack.

Her mother, Sylvia, now campaigns to help raise awareness of different subcultures among young people.

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27 Mar 08 |  Lancashire
Mother's 'contempt' for killers
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27 Mar 08 |  Lancashire
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12 Mar 08 |  Lancashire
Goth clothes 'prompted killing'
12 Mar 08 |  Lancashire

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