Page last updated at 19:43 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 20:43 UK

Goth death mother's plea rejected

Sylvia Lancaster
Sylvia Lancaster said she was disappointed with Mr Straw's response

The mother of a woman murdered because she dressed like a Goth said she was "disappointed" the government would not class similar attacks as hate crime.

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

Mrs Lancaster wants the government to recognise that people who dress differently face attack and abuse.

She met Justice Secretary Jack Straw to call for changes to hate crimes law - but he ruled out new legislation.

Instead, he pledged to do more to ensure police were aware of the prejudice faced by alternative sub-cultures.

Mrs Lancaster, from Rawtenstall, said she would continue her campaign.

She added: "We went into the meeting hoping that we would get the hate crime legislation changed to include all sub-cultures.

"What happened was Mr Straw changed the agenda, if you will. Rather than change the legislation, he's talking about looking at the process that the police go through."

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

Later Mr Straw said: "I have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs Lancaster and I was grateful for the opportunity to hear her concerns today.

"We need to tackle crimes such as these and prevent them happening if possible.

"I hope I was able to reassure Mrs Lancaster that the existing law, which allows the courts the flexibility to take account of any factors that they think make an offence particularly serious, is working."

Mrs Lancaster's daughter was stamped on and kicked repeatedly in the head after a drunken gang of teenagers, branded "feral thugs" by a judge, turned on her and her boyfriend Robert Maltby.

Psychological damage

The couple were attacked because they wore distinctive dark clothing typical of Goths. Gap-year student Sophie died in hospital and her boyfriend suffered permanent physical and psychological damage.

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

Mrs Lancaster set up the charity The Sophie Lancaster Foundation to bring about a change in the law.

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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SEE ALSO
Plea to Straw over Goth's death
06 May 09 |  Lancashire
Goth death mother's new law call
19 Jan 09 |  Lancashire
Goth murderer's sentence reduced
29 Oct 08 |  Lancashire
Memorial bench for Goth victim
26 Apr 08 |  Lancashire
Mother's 'contempt' for killers
30 Mar 08 |  Lancashire
Anger of park attack survivor
27 Mar 08 |  Lancashire
Boy convicted of Goth park murder
27 Mar 08 |  Lancashire

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