Reactions as Ryan Herbert released from prison

Several news outlets have reported the release from prison – on licence – of Ryan Herbert, found guilty in 2008 of the murder of Sophie Lancaster, which was motivated by her goth appearence. He pled guilty and was jailed for life, with a minimum term of 16 years 3 months, later reduced to 15 years 6 months and then further reduced in 2020 – allowing his parole hearing to take place last month.

The attack on Sophie, and boyfriend Robert Maltby who survived, was violent, unprecedented and thankfully unmatched – but it left a significant wound on the psyche of UK goth. We’re all resigned to abuse, threats and even altercations have occurred, but none have ever escalated to the severity of the Sophie Lancaster murder.

It was cruel, vicious and cowardly – the assailants had struck up a seemingly friendly conversation with Sophie and Robert just prior – but it was also clearly motivated by their alternative appearance, which brought it into stark reality for so many of us in the subculture.

So it has always been a sensitive topic on the goth scene, particularly here in the UK but also resonating abroad. The reactions to the decision to parole Ryan Herbert have hardly been surprising;

The most damning of course was the short statement from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, set up by Sylvia Lancaster – Sophie’s Mum – to try and fight the prejudice and intolerance that prompted the assault.

“I’m obviously very disappointed in the result of the parole hearing. Once again we have a justice system that fails to deliver justice. However much progress people make in prison, they have been given their sentence in recognition of the extent of their crime … Her attackers may not have been given a life sentence, but I have.”

Statement from Dr Sylvia Lancaster, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Attitudes towards prisoner parole have always been charged with powerful, negative emotions. It has been magnified in this case because of the unusual motivation for the attack, the shocking intensity of the violence, and the incomparable tragedy of the outcome. It has impacted a small, close-knit and sensitive community on a terrible scale. So I am not at all surprised at the vehemence with which this decision has been roundly condemned.

Ryan Herbert was sixteen when he was sent to prison for his crimes, for which he could not be given a true life sentence under British law as a juvenile. He is ‘on licence’ for the rest of his life, with the threat of being returned to prison for any infraction. He is now thirty, having spent his entire adult life behind bars in a hostile environment costing a staggering amount of public money to maintain. He will emerge but – for the rest of his life – with the stigma of an inmate and a murderer.

This is no apology for him, or any of the other boys charged, or for their cold-blooded crimes. It’s just… a small part of me would like to have faith in our system of justice, and how it is designed to punish and reform the offender, to prevent such offences in future. Hopefully…

It’s precious little comfort to those who have been scarred by this crime, however. I hope that all those affected find their peace in due course.

Sophie Lancaster, 1986-2007

About The Blogging Goth

News, reviews and other articles written from the UK Goth subculture
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6 Responses to Reactions as Ryan Herbert released from prison

  1. Pingback: L’assassino di Sophie Lancaster è libero – Relitti

  2. Alec says:

    I have to applaud you for this article mate. Very professional and well balanced on what is a very emotive subject. With respect to this situation, I think we have all had enough hate to last a thousand lifetimes. A very long prison sentence has quite rightly been served. Would another 5 or 10 or even 15 years behind bars for him do anything to ease the pain of all involved? I’m not so sure. Wherever he is though, he will always be looking over his shoulder and he will never be able to have a truly normal life. Like you, I would like to have some faith in rehabilitation.

    “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind” – Mahatma Ghandi

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s hope it all works out for the best for all.


  4. Sophie Wilde says:

    Very wel! writen& heartfelt ..May we all take time to remember the incredible Sylvia Lancaster who was Sophie’s lovely stoic mum …Sylvia died a few weeks ago very suddenly ,no doubt the sheer stress of knowing that vile thug Herbert was going to be wandering the west Lancashire streets again took its tole on poor Sylvia .I’ m 55 soon & one of the ‘ original ‘goths from Liverpool originally & we learned to run damn fast in those days ,I remember my biyfriend & I around 83-84 getting chased by a gang of skinheadx after we were coming back quietly from a gig..absolutely terfifyi g & Sophie’ s story has resoated with me .
    Sylvia’ work with Sophie Lancaster Trust she was given the MBE & an honoury doctorate ,the work she did in the community educating school kids about acepting ‘ difference’ & understanding various sub- culrures…the woman was just amazing !
    Remembering two warrior women reunited ..Sophie & Sylvia in peace sweethearts xx

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: Post-punk and Post-COVID: World Goth Day 2022 | The Blogging Goth

  6. RPS says:

    I m not from the UK. But if this guy is released early he needs to wear one of those ankles monitors that trace location and full body camera ON when he leaves home.


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