This is Sophie Lancaster, and this is her story.
Sophie Lancaster (born 26 November 1986) was a former pupil at Bacup and Rawtenstall Grammar school, Haslingden High School and a gap year student planning to attend Accrington and Rossendale College to do an English degree. She had been dating Maltby, a 21-year-old art student at Manchester, for three years, and they both had a long-standing attachment to the goth subculture. The couple’s family described them as “Goths”, and said: “They’re both intelligent, sensitive kids. They’re not the sort of people to get in trouble, but they have had problems in the past because they stand out.”
Lancaster’s parents said of her after her death:
“We were proud to know our daughter. She was funny, kind, loving and brave. She was a beautiful girl with a social conscience and values which made her a joy to know. Not being able to see her blossom into her full potential or even to see her smile again is a tragedy beyond words.”
Lancaster’s mother said:
“The thing that makes me most angry is that it is seen as an isolated incident, maybe the seriousness of what happened to Sophie is isolated, but attacks are far from isolated. Just because you follow a different culture you are targeted; you are seen as easy pickings.”
While returning home, Lancaster and Maltby were subjected to a “vicious mob attack” from “a large group of people” between 01:10 hours and 01:20 hours on Saturday, 11 August 2007, at the skate park area of Stubbylee Park, Bacup. The couple were walking home and came across a group of teenagers at the entrance to the park. The group followed them, but there was no trouble until some of them suddenly assaulted Robert Maltby without provocation. When he was knocked unconscious, the gang attacked Sophie Lancaster, who was trying to protect him by cradling him in her arms. A 15-year-old witness told police: “They were running over and just kicking her in the head and jumping up and down on her head.” One distraught witneutss used a mobile phone to call for emergency services saying: “We need… we need an ambulance at Bacup Park, this mosher has just been banged because he’s a mosher.” Witnesses revealed that afterwards, “The killers celebrated their attack on the goths — or “moshers” - by telling friends afterwards that they had “done summat [something] good,” and claiming: “There’s two moshers nearly dead up Bacup park — you wanna see them — they’re a right mess.” The injured couple were assisted by some of the teenagers who called emergency services and then stayed with them and tried to tend their wounds. At the trial they were commended by the judge.
Police said soon afterwards that it was “a sustained attack during the course of which the pair received serious head injuries and their faces were so swollen we could not ascertain which one was female and which one was male.” Both were hospitalised as a result of the attack, initially at Rochdale Infirmary. Maltby’s injuries left him in a coma with bleeding on the brain. He gradually recovered, but was left with lasting brain damage. Lancaster, in a deep coma, was moved to Fairfield Hospital in Bury, then to the Neurology unit at Hope Hospital in Salford. It became clear to hospital staff that she would never regain consciousness, and on 24 August 2007 her family agreed to switch off life support.
It’s so horrible to see that even this day in age, there’s still people who can’t accept diversity, and still commit hate crimes.
RIP Sophie <3
For anyone who didn’t know and is interested, there’s a whole foundation set up inspired by Sophie. I strongly suggest checking it out :)