Eighteen years after the death of Stephen Lawrence
, Gary Dobson and David Norris
have been found guilty of his murder.
Stephen was an 18 year old boy who was studying for his A-levels and wanted to become an architect. As he was waiting for a bus in Eltham
, South-East London, he was set upon by a gang of white youths shouting racist abuse, was stabbed, and died of his injuries very soon after. The incompetence - and rumoured corruption
- of the subsequent police investigation meant that no solid case could be built against any of the young men thought to be involved (Dobson, Norris, but also Neil and Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight) despite immediate identification and tipoffs by witnesses following the attack. The Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case before it got to court, arguing that there was a lack of evidence for prosecution.
A private prosecution for murder brought by the Lawrence family was also unsuccessful, with the judge ordering the jury to acquit Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson and David Norris after ruling that identification evidence given by Stephen’s friend Duwayne Brooks
was not admissible.
After an initial inquiry carried out by the Police Complaints Authority weakly criticised the original investigation into the murder, the Home Secretary ordered a public inquiry, which resulted in the Macpherson report. The conclusions that the report reached - among them that the Metropolitan Police was institutionally racist at the time of the investigation, and that the double jeopardy prohibition against second trials should be removed where there is substantial new evidence - have had a real effect on the administration of justice and on the culture of policing in London.
But have things changed enough? It’s been an important day for SE London, now that justice has begun to be done - Eltham
seems edgy but for others it’s a day for reflection
. For Stephen’s mother, after 18 years of campaigning with her ex-husband the news is ‘no cause for celebration.’
- A timeline
- The Macpherson report’s
- The Daily Mail calls the two Acourts, Dobson, Knight, and Norris murderers
in ‘97 and dares them to sue
- Details of Dobson and Norris’s violent past
can only be published now.
- Stephen’s legacy: the Stephen Lawrence Prize for Architecture
, the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust