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19th September 2013

sophie lancaster
Sophie Lancaster

The killer of Sophie Lancaster, currently serving life for her murder, has been jailed for a further four months after he punched a nurse in a secure psychiatric unit.

Brendan Harris, 21, threatened to kill one member of staff after he became angry over a fellow inmate being restrained. He also punched another in the face leaving him with a broken nose.

Preston Crown Court was told the assault on nurse David Timson occurred on January 10th after Harris was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and transferred from a young offender institution to the Guild Lodge, Whittingham, Lancashire.

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Harris was given a further four months on top of his life sentence after he was convicted of wounding.

Harris was only 15 when he battered to death the 18-year-old gap year student Sophie Lancaster in 2007, simply because of the alternative clothes she was wearing.

Miss Lancaster died as she tried to protect her then boyfriend Robert Maltby, 21, as they walked through Stubbylee Park in Bacup, Lancashire.

Harris and friend Ryan Herbert, then 16, had just a month earlier been found guilty of affray over a similar attack on another boy close to the same park. They walked free from court with community service orders.

Both youngsters had drunk at least four pints of strong cider and downed shots of schnapps when they and their five man gang ambushed Miss Lancaster and Mr Maltby in August 2007.

Initially Sophie handed out cigarettes to placate the yobs but they suddenly turned on Mr Maltby, a university art student.

One of the gang was heard to shout "let's bang him", before Harris attacked Mr Maltby with a flying kick to the 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 after they battered him unconscious.

Instead, Herbert and Harris began "savagely and mercilessly" raining down blows on her head "as though it was a football" until she fell into a coma.

The youths then left the couple for dead, before boasting to friends: "We’ve just beaten someone up. There's two moshers nearly dead up Bacup Park. You wanna see them, they're a right mess."

One 14-year-old girl, who witnessed the attack, dialled 999 in an effort to get help. Her hysterical call was played to the jury during the trial.

When paramedics arrived they found the couple lying side by side covered in blood. Their injuries were so severe they were unable to establish whether the victims were male or female.

The couple, who had been together for six months but had already talked about getting married, were both taken to hospital in comas.

Although Mr Maltby survived, he has suffered lasting injuries and has virtually no memory of the attack.

Miss Lancaster never regained consciousness and died 13 days later.

Harris, who claimed to police he punched Mr Maltby because he was "drunk and showing off" was jailed for life with a recommendation he serve 17 years after a judge described Sophie's killing as an act of "feral thuggery".

During the latest trial, held last month, Harris' murder conviction was kept a secret from the jury for legal reasons.

But upon delivering the guilty verdict Judge Christopher Cornwall then revealed to the horrified members of the jury details of Harris' attack on Sophie and admitting he was "no ordinary patient in a psychiatric unit".

Yesterday Harris appeared by video link wearing a black long sleeved t-shirt with a shaved head and showed no emotion as Judge Cornwall sentenced him for wounding the nurse.

Judge Cornwall said: "Another patient behaved badly and had to be restrained and put in the seclusion room immediately adjacent to your room. because the staff did not like the patients gathering round when someone has to be restrained you were asked not to approach your room.

"Although you complied with it when a member of staff came to speak you rebuked him for the way he looked at you and started to verbally abuse him and make repeated threats to kill him. You were left on your own to calm down.

"Matters went from bad to worse and other members of staff become involved to try and persuade you to move from where you were standing. There was no alternative but to physically restrain you as a last resort and with great reluctance.

"Staff continue to try and persuade you to do what they wanted you to do, to withdraw threats made, but without success. for a good half hour staff members were exclusively involved in trying to persuade you to cooperate.

"It was utterly clear you had not the slightest intention of cooperating. Staff were prevented of making their quarter hourly checks on other patients to ensure their wellbeing.

"They exhausted every possibility and an arrowhead formation was formed. David Timson approached you with raised hands in a gesture made to reassure you. You knew what was going to happen, you had given your understanding to this handling.

"They behaved entirely properly and in accordance with methods but all to no avail. David Timson advanced and you struck a single blow, a very substantial blow that fractured his nose. It was a painful and unpleasant injury but could not be said to be serious in the context of a really serious injury."

"The violence used against David Timson was unlawful violence and the court has a clear public duty as well as to other patients who may think that they have little to lose by behaving badly.

"Staff who care for you are often at some risk themselves of being attacked. It is important for you to understand they exercise the very greatest patience and restraint and are wholly conscious of difficulties you suffer from but you cannot be permitted to use unlawful violence against them and expect that to have no consequences."


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