Mum pays tribute to daughter at gothic weekend

A CROWD of more than 500 people gathered on the West Cliff on Saturday, together with the heartbroken mother of murdered goth Sophie Lancaster, to celebrate her life.

Sophie (20) who had attended three Whitby Gothic Weekends, was kicked and stamped to death as she begged two yobs to stop beating her boyfriend, Robert Maltby (21), in a park in Bacup, Lancashire last August.

Her killers Brendan Harris (15) and Ryan Herbert (16) were due to be sentenced yesterday.

Both teenagers pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Maltby and three other youths, two aged 17 and one 16, who cannot be named, also pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr Maltby.

Sophie's mum Sylvia told the Whitby Gazette she was amazed at the sheer number of people who attended the weekend's ceremony led by Ade Varney, a goth who is campaigning to include offences against people based on their appearance or subcultural interests in the definition of hate crime.

She told the Whitby Gazette: "I was just amazed.

"It was just wonderful really.

"So many people had taken that time out to come and remember. I didn't really expect that.

"The support has been amazing and not just from this country but worldwide.

"Ade Varney led the service.

"He read a poem and talked about what went on and talked about the campaign."

Mrs Lancaster said Whitby Gothic Weekend is a lesson for how people should treat each other.

"Sophie was always very interested in Whitby from a young age.

"She used to read Graham Taylor's books.

"You can just be yourself and that's what it's about.

"We went to the goth ball on Saturday night and people actually didn't know who I was.

"We went dead straight. They were just brilliant with us. We chatted and all the rest of it.

"It would be wonderful if that atmosphere could be spread. There's no reason why it can't.

"What we are trying to do with the S.O.P.H.I.E campaign is to raise awareness in young people to treat people with respect.

"It's about what you are. It's not what you look like, it doesn't mean anything.

"Hopefully we are going to highlight specific differences and show young people are all the same under their skin."

Mrs Lancaster said she plans to return to Whitby for the next gothic weekend with her husband John in October.

As Sophie's killers were due to be sentenced she said whatever sentence they get it will never be enough.

The plaque on the bench reads: "In memory of Sophie Lancaster 26th November 1986 – 24th August 2007 – an angel too soon."

To see a video of the ceremony at Whitby, click here.

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