Page last updated at 06:54 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 07:54 UK

Plea to Straw over Goth's death

Sophie Lancaster and Robert Maltby
Sophie Lancaster was killed while out with her boyfriend Robert Maltby

The mother of a woman murdered because she dressed like a Goth wants similar attacks to be classed as hate crimes.

Sylvia Lancaster's daughter Sophie, 20, was kicked to death in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, in August 2007.

Mrs Lancaster is meeting Justice Secretary Jack Straw to urge similar attacks to be reclassified.

"Society overall now needs to realise it's just as unacceptable to hate someone because they look different," Mrs Lancaster, of Rawtenstall, said.

Mrs Lancaster hopes that if similar crimes were classed as hate crimes, they would attract higher sentences.

Her daughter was stamped on and kicked in the head after drunk teenagers turned on her and her boyfriend Robert Maltby in Stubbylee Park.

Sylvia Lancaster
Sylvia Lancaster is taking her fight to Jack Straw

The pair were attacked because they wore distinctive dark clothing typical of Goths. Mr Maltby survived the attack, but has been left with permanent physical and psychological damage.

"It's intimidating, it's frightening and it's wrong," she said.

"We want Jack Straw to bring the hate crime legislation into the 21st Century, and recognise that a high proportion of people that dress differently often face attack and abuse.

"It's every parent's worst nightmare. Most young people like to express themselves through their appearance - and why shouldn't they?

"What's more, we think the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should have systems in place to officially record attacks motivated by hatred toward subcultures."

Two teenagers were given life sentences and three other teenagers were given indeterminate sentences of detention for public protection in April last year in relation to the attacks.

"If Sophie's attackers knew the full weight of the law would come down on them for that assault, perhaps they might have thought twice," Mrs Lancaster said.

At the Preston Crown Court trial in April last year, judge Anthony Russell QC described the murder as a "hate crime equal to all others".

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