Killer of Haslingden girl, Sophie Lancaster, has sentence increased for breaking nurse's nose (From Burnley and Pendle Citizen)
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Killer of Haslingden girl, Sophie Lancaster, has sentence increased for breaking nurse's nose
3:19pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
One of the killers of a Lancashire woman who was murdered because of her Goth appearance has received an extra four months to his life sentence after he attacked a mental health nurse.
Sophie Lancaster, 20, was killed in August 2007 by then youths, Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert, with repeated stamps and kicks to her head just because of the way she looked.
The latest assault took place at a psychiatric hospital where Harris, now 21, was transferred to last year after he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.
He broke the nose of a male nurse with a single "substantial" blow as staff at Guild Lodge near Preston, Lancashire, attempted to restrain him.
Harris had claimed he acted in self-defence but a jury at Preston Crown Court rejected his account earlier this month and convicted him of committing grievous bodily harm in January.
Miss Lancaster was ''volleyed'' in the face, as if kicking a football, by Herbert and kicked in the head by Harris, as she cradled her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, in a park in Bacup after he had been attacked.
The pair, along with three other teenagers, had moments earlier stamped and kicked art student Mr Maltby into unconsciousness.
The savagery of the assault was such that paramedics could not tell which sex the victims were.
Gap-year student Miss Lancaster died in hospital 13 days later.
Sentencing Harris and Herbert to life terms, the Recorder of Preston Judge Anthony Russell QC said they had both acted with "feral thuggery".
He added: ''This was a hate crime against these completely harmless people targeted because their appearance was different to yours.''
On Wednesday, Judge Christopher Cornwall told Harris - who appeared in court via videolink - that the background to him being in Guild Lodge was that he had been convicted of the "appalling" murder of Miss Lancaster and inflicting grievous bodily harm on Mr Maltby.
Four months earlier before that "terrible attack", Harris was made subject to a referral order at youth court for committing an assault occasioning bodily harm and affray.
The court heard that Harris had been told he could not go back to his room at Guild Lodge because another patient was being restrained next door after a disturbance.
Harris took exception to that "modest request" and went on to verbally abuse a member of staff and make repeated threats to kill him.
When staff went to restrain Harris too, he responded by striking the nurse in the face.
His barrister argued it would be wrong to impose a consecutive sentence but Judge Cornwall said the court had a duty to send a message to other long-serving prisoners "who may think they have very little to lose if they behave badly".
Judge Cornwall said Harris's mental health condition made the culpability lower as he sentenced him to a further four months of detention.
That term will be added to the minimum 18 years he must serve, imposed in April 2008, before he can be considered for parole.
The judge told Harris: "It is important for you to understand that staff at Guild Lodge exercise the very greatest patience and restraint and are wholly conscious of the difficulties you suffer from but you cannot be permitted to use considerable unlawful violence against them and expect it to have no consequences."