Campaigning mother of murdered 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster dies suddenly

Sylvia Lancaster, the mother of a 20-year-old woman who was murdered in 2007 because she was dressed as a goth, has died.

Lancaster died suddenly and unexpectedly on Tuesday morning, according to a statement posted by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation on social media, a charity founded in her daughter’s memory.

The charity said: “It is with great shock and disbelief that we announce that Sylvia Lancaster has passed away.

“She died early this morning in Blackburn hospital. She had suffered from ill-health for the last couple of years, but her death was sudden and unexpected. Sylvia had such a powerful life force; we cannot imagine a world without her in it.”

The charity added that after her daughter’s murder Lancaster “put her energy into championing people from alternative subcultures and creating educational programmes to tackle prejudice and intolerance”.

Sophie Lancaster was murdered and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, badly beaten in what a judge described as a “feral” and “savage” attack by teenagers in Lancashire in August 2007.

The foundation added: “She worked tirelessly to combat the inaccurate and lazy stereotyping that all too often leads to violent prejudice and promoted a culture of celebrating difference; something that leads to safer communities for us all.”

Lancaster’s death comes a few weeks after one of the murderers of her daughter was due to be released from jail, which Lancaster said she was “very disappointed” to hear.

Ryan Herbert, who was 16 at time time, was jailed for life in 2008 for murdering Sophie Lancaster in a park in Lancashire and was ordered to serve a minimum of 16 years. On appeal, his sentence was reduced to 14 and a half years.

However, the parole board decided in mid-March that Herbert could be released on licence.

In an interview with the Guardian shortly before her death, Lancaster, speaking of her daughter’s murder and the decision for Herbert to be released from prison, said she had not been given an explanation for the decision and that she felt the views of bereaved families were often ignored by the justice system.

She added: “Fourteen years ago he was given a 16-year sentence. What are they saying? Are they saying that the crime is not as important as it was then? I find that quite a difficult concept to deal with.”

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