Thursday, March 27, 2008

Natural Bored Killers

The pointless murder of Sophie Lancaster

What a world we live on where you can lose your life simply because of what you're wearing. We pride ourselves on the liberal times we live in, but unless it touches us directly, we choose not to see the extreme violence that reigns over big chunks of Britain. We watch Jeremy Kyle from the safety of our TV screens, but little do we know that the everyday freak show of violence and brutality takes its regular toll. This one, though, was worse, because it was particularly pointless. As I read BBC news online I had to take a deep breath and make a real effort before going back to work. You may have heard all about it already.

Today Brendan Harris, 15 and Ryan Herbert, 16 - textbook chavs of the lowest degree - have been found guilty of murder after they kicked a woman to death because she was a Goth. If you've ever remotely attempted to express yourself by wearing clothes of a slightly different kind, then you may already be aware that Britain is full of scumbags who let loose their insecurities by hurling abuse at people whose only fault is looking better than your average chav. The alibi? Oh yes, they're bored shitless; "they get drunk and show off" because they have nothing better to do. Or have they? Their lives so empty that in the case of Sophie Lancaster, 20, her sub-human attackers went as far as killing her.

Harris and Herbert, along with a bunch of others from the pack, kicked off with a vile and cowardly assault on Sophie's boyfriend Robert Maltby as the couple were walking home via Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire in August 2007. Robert's fault was that he wasn't wearing a tracksuit and he was minding his own business. As Sophie begged the scumbags to stop the beastly aggression, the savages turned on her until the orgy of violence got both Robert and Sophie into a coma. According to the press, "when paramedics arrived and found the couple lying side by side covered in blood, they could not tell what sex she was such was the severity of the injuries to her face". Once in hospital, Robert regained consciousness but Sophie didn't. She had been killed.

The police went on record as saying that Herbert and Harris haven't recognised how violent the attack was. In the words of Det Supt Mick Gradwell, "They have just done it without thinking but they have seemed to have enjoyed it and carried on remorselessly kicking at two very defenceless people who were unable to protect themselves because of the level of violence inflicted upon them". Most disgustingly, when Harris was initially interviewed about the assaults he was "laughing and joking" with his mother. "The general attitude of the defendants' parents during the whole process has been appalling".

The judicial sentence, and the hope that both Harris and Herbert rot in jail, isn't going to bring Sophie back. However, in a country like Britain that is increasingly losing any notion of social bearing, it is a matter of urgency that the definition of hate crime is to include offences against people based on their appearance.

Sophie 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". In the yobbish, proto-macho culture that has taken over Britain, you stand out from the crowd and you become fair game. It is difficult to see how an atrocity entirely motivated by ignorant hatred regarding Sophie and Robert's appearance shouldn't be dealt with as severely as a racially aggravated crime. The killing of Sophie prompted a Hate Crime Petition that you can view and sign here.

Sophie's family started the Sophie's memorial website as a lasting legacy to raise awareness of the injustice perpetrated against Sophie and to work toward a more tolerant, less violent society.


Anonymous said...

obnoxious knobheads.
i wish them some heavy buggering in jail. and slow torture.

Emma said...

Well said.
I hope their arses get torn to shreds.

Anonymous said...

FROM "THE TIMES", Sunday 30 March.

We indulge yobs - and murdered Sophie Lancaster pays the price
Rod Liddle

The murder of Sophie Lancaster - kicked to death by a pack of feral, pubescent chavs because she was dressed as a “goth” - might once have genuinely shocked us, rather than simply appalled us. Sophie, a gentle and intelligent soul by all accounts, had gone to the aid of her boyfriend who was being beaten by the youths; please stop, she pleaded. So they killed her and continued kicking her boyfriend.

Her murder was not shocking because such acts of motiveless violence have become very familiar to us, these past 10 years or so. And when you delve beneath the surface of this case, the stuff you discover is terribly familiar, too.

The perpetrators - Ryan Herbert, 16, and Brendan Harris, 15, staring out of their police mugshots, with pasty crop-headed faces which seem to betray intense stupidity mixed with arrogance. We’ve seen plenty of their kind before: kids who feel themselves to be beyond the law.

The fact that they were hanging around a local park in the small hours of the morning, their parents quite unconcerned as to where they were or what they were doing.

Then there’s the park itself; a familiar, frowsy, urban wasteland, the subject of continual complaints from local residents that drunken yobs congregated there late at night, vandalising property and threatening people - but neither the police nor the local council were sufficiently concerned to do anything about it. Park wardens, the council said, were too expensive.

The mother of one of the killers sitting in the police interview room, laughing and joking with her son, utterly devoid of contrition - too thick to possess a conscience or a sense of right and wrong.

And, of course, the one thing you would have predicted as soon as you read the headlines - that both boys had been previously convicted of an almost identical, motiveless, assault, in the very same place.

Hauled before the bored magistrates, they were sentenced to a brief spot of community service. No acknowledgment from the authorities that such reflexive violence might constitute a future danger to the public. Just go off and paint some walls, boys.

Ryan Herbert was a bit of a star. He’d been in a rap video about how people had better watch out if they ran into his gang - the threats delivered in excruciating whitey-in-da-ghetto patois. The video was a “youth project” funded by the local council. Someone thought that a constructive way to channel the energies of these scum was to indulge them in their violent adolescent fantasies.

They were indulged, mind, at every turn - by their parents, by the courts, by the council, by a government which wants to send fewer such people to prison. Poor Sophie Lancaster has paid the price for this serial indulgence. We should be appalled, but not surprised.

Anonymous said...

It's not a new phenomenon. Attacks against people who look different have been going on ever since people dared to look different.

I have been the victim of it - 20 years ago. I survived, because I am a fast runner. My friend who was also attacked at the same time survived because he was lucky - a week in a coma and memory loss and failing his university degree that he was going to pass easily was all he ended up with.

This is more shocking because Sophie was a girl. Our grls usually are safe-ish fom the yobs - maybe a few insults and the occasional punch is what our girls get from these animals - Sophie got killed by them and still it's only GBH and not attempted murder for jumping up and down on someones head for no reason. Who has to die before the law is changed? the daughter of an MP?

Beating anyone unconcious and then stamping repeatedly on thier heads is fucking attempted murder - and should carry a mandatory life sentence, which means at least 30 years even if the perp is drunk and 15. End of story. I do not see anything controversial in that statement.

It's not about goths v chavs, as many victims of these crimes are chavs themselves - it's about common decency.

Anonymous said...

But thats it, judicial sentences in this country are an absolute lark. The judge was obviously blind to how the whole thing effected Sophie's family. 18 yrs for that rank atrocity??? What do you have to do to get a mandatory life sentence? Piss on his wig?