A CRIME that shocked the nation can be an over-used phrase, but in the case of the murder of Sophie Lancaster it is true.
It happened in a small Lancashire town and in a small community the shock is magnified, as a new publication by Calder Valley publishers Pomona Books shows.
Written by Rossendale journalist Catherine Smyth, weirdo. mosher. freak. (if only they’d stopped at name calling) is a choronolgical re-telling of the case, which resulted in five youths serving prison sentences for crimes relating to the unprovoked attack, and its aftermath.
Sophie, 23, was murdered in a Bacup park in 2007 and its effect was felt in the Calder Valley where the mother of Sophie’s boyfriend, Rob Maltby (who was severely injured in the attack), Tracy Maltby, was manageress of Cheers off-licence in Todmorden.
Sophie and Rob were attacked because of what they looked like, which is where Catherine’s title for the book comes from, and her murder led to the formation of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which focuses on creating respect for and understanding of subcultures in our communities and will work in conjunction with politicians and police forces to ensure individuals who are part of subcultures are protected by the law.
The foundation was supported at last year’s inaugural Todstock event in Todmorden, which attracted between four and five thousand people to the town’s Centre Vale Park for a two-day free music festival, where proceeds from programme sales went to the foundation.
Sophie’s mum Sylvia said it was a story that needed to be told and that Catherine, who was a reporter on the Rossendale Free Press through this time, was the right person to do it.
Catherine says it was one of those occasions when, as a reporter on a newspaper in a small community, you become involved in the case.
For those who think crimes like this cannot happen in small towns like Bacup, or Todmorden, or many others like them, it is an uneasy read but a compelling one from which it is to be hoped more understanding and respect for others must come.
l weirdo. mosher. freak. (if only they’d stopped at name calling) by Catherine Smyth is published by Pomona Books at £7.99. Profits from the sale of the book will be divided equally between the author, publisher and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.