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Sophie Lancaster’s mum speaks out after her daughter’s killer has minimum jail term cut

“I just think where’s the justice?”

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Family photo of Sophie Lancaster

News broke yesterday that one of the killers of Sophie Lancaster has had his minimum jail term reduced because he’s made ‘exceptional progress’ in prison.

Sophie was attacked in a park in Lancashire back in 2007, after she rushed to protect her boyfriend from a gang of youths – the pair were ‘savagely and mercilessly’ beaten because they were dressed as goths.

Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris were part of the ‘feral’ gang who attacked Sophie, 20, and her boyfriend Robert Maltby for ‘dressing differently’, leaving Sophie unconscious. Mr Maltby survived – but with terrible injuries – and sadly two weeks later Sophie died in hospital, the Manchester Evening News reports.


Ryan Herbert – Credit: Lancashire Police

Herbert – who was 16 at the time – was sentenced to a life sentence with a minimum of 16 years and three months (later reduced to 15-and-a-half years on appeal) for the attack in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, in the early hours of August 11th 2007.

Now 28, Herbert had his sentence reduced even further yesterday by a High Court judge, to 14 and a half years, with the judge saying he’s making ‘exceptional progress’ in prison, including with his education – this means Herbert could apply for parole as early as February 2022.

Harris was also found guilty of murder and was jailed for life with a minimum term of 18 years – his case was also reviewed by a judge, but he was not found to have made enough progress to have a sentence reduction.

Now Sophie Lancaster’s mum has said she thinks there’s ‘no justice’. Sylvia Lancaster has become a well-known hate crime campaigner since her daughter’s death, and runs a charity in Sophie’s name.

Family photo of Sophie Lancaster

Sylvia told the Manchester Evening News: “I was told this morning. It’s been going on for about 18 months, so I was aware it was potentially in a pipeline. But it was still a big shock. I just think where’s the justice?

“It’s very sad this whole process seems to be about the victims. It’s all about the perpetrator. I am glad he’s doing well in prison and hopefully he’s changed. But he was given a sentence and he should serve it in my opinion.

“They say he’s been doing these courses, that’s good, but my daughter never got the chance to do hers. It just doesn’t seem right he should have time deducted. I just think it makes a mockery of justice.”

She added: “In my eyes it is life for a life. A life sentence if you have taken a life and at the end of the day he has taken a life. He may have been 16 but he was old enough to know what he was doing and he should serve the consequences for it.

“The original judge did all he could, gave them as much as he could, and we were very grateful for that now it feels like other people, who have no idea, are chipping away at it.”

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Greater Manchester town officially named one of the happiest places to live in UK

Well-deserved?

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Rept0n1x / Wikimedia

A Greater Manchester town has been named among the 20 happiest places to live in the UK, alongside a couple of other North West spots.

Altrincham was placed in the top 20 of Britain’s happiest places to live in an annual survey, coming in at number 17 in Rightmove’s survey.

St Ives, a seaside town in Cornwall, took the number one spot, while Galashiels in Scotland came in a respectable second.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

Other North West areas in the top 20 were Northwich (16) and Macclesfield (18).

Rightmove’s Happy at Home Index asked more than 21,000 people their thoughts on where they live.

Each area is ranked on factors like whether people feel there is a sense of belonging, local amenities, whether there is a community spirit and the proximity to green spaces.

Anthony O’Neil / Geograph

According to Rightmove, these are Britain’s happiest places to live in 2022 (including the average house price and average asking monthly rental price):

1) St Ives, South West – £523,731, £1,152

2) Galashiels, Scotland – £153,546, £530

3) Woodbridge, East of England – £481,978, £1,196

4) Hexham, North East – £262,265, £810

5) Perth, Scotland – £179,410, £812

6) Harrogate, Yorkshire and the Humber – £381,124, £1,327

7) Anglesey, Wales – £324,048, £766

8) Bury St Edmunds, East of England – £334,160, £1,368

9) Stirling, Scotland – £197,075, £990

10) Cirencester, South West, £382,065 – £1,331

11) Richmond-upon-Thames, London – £1,153,347, £3,931

12) Falmouth, South West – £373,752, £1,289

13) Monmouth, Wales – £331,844, £1,104

14) Leamington Spa, West Midlands – £383,553, £1,274

15) Worcester, West Midlands – £286,250, £1,059

16) Northwich, North West – £246,995, £942

17) Altrincham, North West – £615,246, £2,297

18) Macclesfield, North West – £292,078, £1,146

19) Newbury, South East – £380,842, £1,364

20) Llandudno, Wales – £260,245, £760

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Northern to start using new technology to catch train fare dodgers

‘This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues’

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Northern has announced that they will be bringing in some brand new technology to catch train fare dodgers.

Britain’s second largest train operator is planning to install the system within station barriers at ‘known hotspots’, the BBC reports.

The technology will automatically detect whether a ticket is valid, and alert rail staff for any additional checks, or if the customer has the right railcard.

Jon David Houghton / Wikimedia Commons

According to Northern, around 180 fare dodgers were caught in a single day when they trialled the system at Manchester Victoria in November.

Northern’s Customer and Commercial Director Mark Powles said: “This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues whose job it is to ensure ticket checks are carried out quickly and efficiently.

“Unfortunately, we know that a small minority of customers try to exploit the automated nature of barrier checks to travel on tickets they know they’re not eligible to use.”

Mikey / Flickr

Powles added that the kit was ‘very easy’ to install, saying it could be: “deployed to known hotspots across the whole network to help tackle this fraudulent activity”.

The Department for Transport confirmed last month that anyone travelling on a train without a ticket can be fined £100 from January 23rd, rising from £20. 

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Man, 33, charged following attempted kidnapping of schoolgirl

A 33-year-old has been arrested and charged

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Police have charged a man, following the release of CCTV footage featuring a car used in three attempted kidnappings around Salford.

A man driving the vehicle attempted to force a 15-year-old girl into the car at a bus stop in Monton on Monday, November 21st.

Detectives also believe the same man tried to abduct another girl earlier that same day, as well as a third teenager five days previous.

Google Maps

Officers have confirmed that Sean Anthony Gillings (06/09/1989) of no fixed abode has been charged, following an appeal to the public.

This appeal resulted in the arrest of 33-year-old Gillings, who was then questioned and charged on Tuesday November 29th.

He also remains on bail for the other two attempt kidnaps, while further investigations are ongoing.

Gillings was remanded in custody yesterday, Wednesday November 30th, to appear at Manchester Crown Square Court on Wednesday January 4th 2023.

Police previously confirmed that a 33-year-old man was arrested by officers on Monday November 28th, on suspicion of three counts of attempted kidnap.

According to Greater Manchester Police, the victims have been left ‘extremely shaken up’.

Officers identified the vehicle in the footage as a black Vauxhall Astra with a silver cover on the driver’s side wing mirror.

Greater Manchester Police

Detective Inspector Chris Horsfield, of GMP’s Salford CID, previously said: “Although we have made this arrest, we are still very much looking to speak to anyone who may have information or dashcam footage, which could help us to establish the circumstances.

“We understand that the local community will be concerned but we are doing all we can to solve this investigation.

“I’d urge anyone who knows anything at all to please get in touch as soon as possible. In particular we are interested in the movements of a Black Vauxhall Astra 08 plate with a silver driver’s wing mirror cover; the passenger side is black.”

Police believe the incidents happened at the following times:

  • Liverpool Street, Salford, between Fitzwarren Street and Albion Way on November 16th, between 7:45-8:20pm
  • Mossfield Road and Ackworth Road, Swinton, on November 21st, between 8-9am
  • Rocky Lane, Monton Green and Monton High Street on November 21st, between 6-7pm

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