Mum of Sophie Lancaster feels 'disappointed' and 'let down' as killer Ryan Herbert set for release

ITV Granada Reports journalist Rob Smith spoke to the mother of Sophie Lancaster.

The mother of Sophie Lancaster, who was kicked to death as she tried to protect her boyfriend, says she feels "disappointed" and "let down" as one of her daughter's killers is set to be released from prison.

Ryan Herbert was 16 when he was jailed for life for murdering the 20-year-old as she cradled partner Robert Maltby’s head in her lap.

They were targeted by a gang of teenagers in park in Bacup, Lancashire, in 2007, simply because they dressed differently, It was a crime that shocked the country.

The Parole Board has now decided Herbert can be released on licence, 15 years after he took part in the "vicious" attack.

Sophie's mother, Sylvia Lancaster, has said that she is "disappointed" with the Parole Board's decision and says the Justice System has failed her daughter.

"They haven't done justice for our Sophie", she said. "All you want at the end of the day is justice.

"You don't want anything out of the ordinary, you just want justice."

She continued to say: "I do feel let down."

Brendon Harris (left) and Ryan Herbert (right) were found guilty of Sophie's murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Brendon Harris, Ryan Herbert and four other teenage boys “savagely and mercilessly attacked” Robert Maltby in Stubbylee Park during the early hours of August 11, 2007.

Gap-year student Miss Lancaster rushed to help her boyfriend as he lay unconscious and shouted at his attackers to leave him alone.

Herbert and Harris then turned on her, subjecting her to a “sustained and vicious attack” which involved her head being kicked and stamped on until she lost consciousness.

Miss Lancaster never regained consciousness and died in hospital 14 days later.

Both were sentenced to life in prison, with a minimum of 16 years three months for Herbert and 18 years for Harris.

However, in 2020, Herbert had his tariff cut to 14-and-a-half years when a High Court judge concluded he had made “exceptional progress” in jail.

The Parole Board found he had made “significant changes to his life which reflected his remorse, his insight and increased maturity”.

"After considering the circumstances of his offending and examining the evidence for the progress made while in custody, the panel was satisfied that Mr Herbert was suitable for release," a document setting out the decision said.

Sophie Lancaster was kicked until she lost consciousness and died in hospital from her injuries 14 days later.

Sylvia said: "I hope he has. I hope he has for his sake and for society's sake.

"We don't want men walking round with vicious and ridiculous ideas about how he should behave.

"I do understand that people can change - and do change - but I think that we'll sit back and see what happens."

Herbert, who became eligible for release in February, will be subject to restrictions on his movements, where he lives and who he contacts.