Mother of Sophie Lancaster, 20, who was beaten to death by a gang for being a goth works with Coronation Street producers on hard-hitting storyline about attack on Nina and Seb
- Sophie Lancaster, from Lancashire, was 20 when she was murdered by two teens
- Received fatal wounds after trying to protect her boyfriend from savage beating
- Sophie died of her injuries 13 days after the attack in a local park in 2008
- Mother Dr Sylvia has been working with Coronation Street bosses for 18 months
- Soap storyline involving Nina Lucas will have many similarities to the hate crime
The mother of Sophie Lancaster who was beaten to death by a gang for being a goth is working with Coronation Street producers on a hard-hitting storyline about hate crime.
In a new storyline set to air in May, characters Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin are violently attacked because of her appearance by a gang of drunken youths.
The storyline has many similarities to what happened to Sophie Lancaster, who was murdered in a Lancashire park in 2007, and the 20-year-old’s mother Dr Sylvia Lancaster OBE has been secretly working with soap bosses for over 18 months.
She told The Sun she wouldn’t wish Sophie’s injuries ‘on her worst enemy’, saying she wanted to be involved in the storyline so that people could understand Sophie’s personality.
She explained: ‘I thought kids would see her and they will see she’s different, but they’ll also see she was funny, she was kind, she was caring…with Coronation Street and Nina people will now see that. They will see people are different but you don’t need to hate that.’
The mother of Sophie Lancaster who was beaten to death by a gang for being a goth is working with Coronation Street producers on a hard-hitting storyline about hate crime (pictured, Sophie)
Hard-hitting: Coronation Street is set to tackle the issue of hate crime when characters Nina Lucas and Seb Franklin are violently attacked because of her appearance
Sylvia said she hoped the storyline would help people understand that just because people are ‘different’ they shouldn’t be feared.
She explained she wanted Nina to give a ‘proper representation’, adding: ‘With Nina people have grown to love her, she’s now one of the most popular characters.
‘This episode will really get people to question things, it should start the conversation in the living room about people’s prejudices.’
Sylvia’s daughter Sophie was born and raised in the Rossendale Valley, near the town of Bacup, Lancashire.
Sylvia said she hoped the storyline would help people understand that just because people are ‘different’ they shouldn’t be feared
Sophie’s individuality blossomed after spending a summer with a friend when she was 12.
How Sophie Lancaster was attacked while defending her boyfriend
Sophie Lancaster and Robert Maltby were making their way through the Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire, shortly after midnight on August 10 when they came across a gang of teenagers.
Without provocation, the gang turned on Mr Maltby, an art student. Harris started the violence with a flying kick to his head.
Miss Lancaster, who was due to start an English degree at university a month later, cradled her boyfriend’s head in her lap and begged his laughing attackers to leave him alone.
Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert began ‘savagely and mercilessly’ raining down blows on her head ‘as though it was a football’ until she fell into a coma.
They left the couple for dead.
Although Mr Maltby survived, he suffered lasting injuries. Miss Lancaster never regained consciousness.
A judge condemned the attack as ‘feral thuggery’ as he jailed Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris for murder.
Judge Anthony Russell said: ‘This attack was described as you all acting like a pack of wild animals… your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself.’
Police believe the attack was linked to the couple identifying as Goths.
Identifying as a goth, Sophie surrounded herself with like-minded people and, when she turned 18, moved in with her boyfriend, Robert Maltby.
In the early hours of 11 August, Sophie and Rob were targeted by a gang of youths they walked home from a party.
The group, led by Brendan Harris and Ryan Herbert, then 15, ‘savagely and mercilessly attacked’ Mr Maltby after a night of drinking.
Gap year student Sophie had rushed to help her boyfriend as he lay unconscious, cradling his head, and shouted at his attackers to leave him alone.
The gang then turned on her, subjecting her to a ‘sustained and vicious attack’ which involved her head being kicked and stamped on until she too lost consciousness.
By the time the ambulance arrived, the attackers had fled. At the scene, paramedics were appalled by what they found, as Detective Chief Superintendent Dean Holden explained in a documentary Britain’s Deadliest Kids last year.
‘The paramedics in attendance couldn’t actually make out the gender of both victims, particularly Sophie, because of the level of swelling and bleeding,’ he said.
The following morning, Sylvia returned home from shopping to find a note had been put through her letterbox asking her to phone the local police station.
‘You know, you open that front door and that’s when your whole life changes,’ she said. ‘You can never go back; you can’t step back to in your old life.’
Arriving at the hospital, Sylvia remembered the sheer horror she felt as she looked over Sophie’s catastrophic injuries.
Almost two weeks later, Sylvia made the difficult decision to turn off her daughter’s life support.
Harris and Herbert were arrested shortly after the attack after they were identified as ringleaders by witnesses.
DCS Holden explained: ‘When they were remanded in custody, we chose to place a covert listening device in the back of a police vehicle where they were being transported. ‘They did have a conversation about “kicking her head like a football.” That was quite compelling evidence.’
Sylvia previously shared this shocking photo of Sophie in hospital after the fatal attack in 2007. She died two weeks later
After Sophie’s death, Herbert and Harris were charged with murder. Herbert soon admitted his involvement in the killing to his mother on the phone.
After a short trial in March 2008, Harris and Herbert were found guilty of Sophie’s murder.
Harris was convicted of Miss Lancaster’s murder following a trial. He pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm with intent against Mr Maltby and was sentenced to two life terms. Herbert, who admitted murder and GBH with intent, was given two life sentences.
Since Sophie’s death, Sylvia has founded the Sophie Lancaster foundation.
Jailed: Ryan Herbert (left) and Brendan Harris (right), then both aged 15, were sentenced to life in prison following Sophie’s death
The foundation is a lasting legacy in her daughter’s memory and provides educational resources that challenge discrimination towards people from alternative subcultures.
When the storyline was first discussed producers and the research team approached Sylvia who was delighted to be able to work with them to help highlight the issue.
Corrie viewers have seen Nina and Seb have fall head over heels in love in recent weeks, but her Victorian Goth identity has resulted in some prejudiced reactions.
Among those is character Corey Brent (Maximus Evans), the boyfriend of Nina’s best friend Asha, has long made his intolerance towards Nina known.
She said she wouldn’t wish Sophie’s injuries ‘on her worst enemy’, revealing she wanted to be involved in the storyline so that people could understand Sophie’s personality
In the dramatic episodes, the couple are set to be out walking when Corey and a gang of drunken mates including Kelly Neelan, corner and goad the pair.
As Corey starts hurling abuse, Kelly finds herself egged on by the crowd and slaps Nina. Seb and Nina hurry away as the gang gives chase and they find themselves subject to an unprovoked attack.
Back on the Street Abi and Kevin’s hen and stag night parties are brought to an abrupt halt when the police arrive with news of the attack.
As Abi and Roy rush to the hospital to be with Seb and Nina, the police start the investigation to get to the bottom of which of the teenage gang was responsible for the vicious assault that has left the young couple with horrific injuries.
‘Coronation Street covering this issue means a huge amount to me’: Sophie’s mum Sylvia helped Corrie with the storyline (pictured on Quest Red series Britain’s Deadliest Kids)
The story will draw in the street’s other teenagers as Summer, Asha and Amy find themselves caught up in the aftermath as potential witnesses in the police inquiry.
On the importance of tackling this storyline Coronation Street, producer Iain MacLeod said: ‘The issue of intolerance and hatred towards people from different cultures and subcultures is arguably more relevant now than it’s ever been.
‘This incredibly hard-hitting storyline, which centres on a senseless act of violence, will draw in characters from all corners of our narrative universe and will, we hope, leave the audience with a clear message: everyone, regardless of how they look, how they dress or any aspect of how they live their life, should be treated with tolerance and respect.
‘The story will run across the rest of the year and beyond, with many twists and turns, and will be heartbreaking and dramatic in equal measure. In the end, the story will see an optimistic outcome emerge from the traumatic attack.’
New storyline: The tough storyline will draw in the street’s other teenagers and is set to pan out over the year as police try to workout who was responsible for Nina and Seb’s horrific injuries
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