Stephen Lawrence Stephen Lawrence ? David How Gary … killed Who killers and Dobson
Thu, 22 Apr 2021 08:00:00 +0100
The murder of Stephen Lawrence has had a profound effect on the UK, with two of his killers eventually facing justice almost 20 years after the attack
On 22 April 1993, black teenager Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death in south-east London by a gang of white youths in an unprovoked attack.
The crime, and the protracted investigation that followed, had profound consequences for the UK that continue to be felt more than 25 years later.
Here’s what happened to Lawrence, and how two of his killers were eventually brought to justice following decades of campaigning.
On 22 April 1993, 18-year-old Lawrence was waiting at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, with his friend Duwayne Brooks when the pair were attacked by a gang of white youths.
While Brooks was able to escape unhurt, Lawrence had been stabbed multiple times and, after managing to run over 100 metres from the scene, he collapsed and subsequently bled to death.
In the days following his murder, several people came forward to the police to name a local gang in connection with the crime, with notes left on a car windscreen and in a telephone box.
The suspects were Gary Dobson, brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, Luke Knight and David Norris, who had been linked with previous knife attacks and racist incidents in the area..
Between 7 May and 3 June, all five were arrested by police – Neil Acourt and Luke Knight were charged with murder on 13 May and 23 June respectively after being identified by Duwayne Brooks.
However, on 29 July 1993, the CPS said that Brook’s ID evidence was insufficient, and the prosecution was dropped.
The Lawrence family had expressed its frustration at the police’s attempts to catch Stephen’s killers, with Nelson Mandela joining the calls for justice.
In September 1994, Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville Lawrence launched a private prosecution against Neli Acourt, Knight and Dobson. However, in April 1996 the murder trial against the trio collapsed, with the judge ruling that Brooks’ ID evidence was inadmissable.
On 13 February 1997, almost four years after the murder, the five suspects appeared at the inquest into Lawrence’s death and refused to answer questions.
The following day, the Daily Mail printed the famous “Murderers” front page, displaying the five men’s faces with the sub-heading: “The Mail accuses these men of killing. If we are wrong, let them sue us”.
Later that year, the MacPherson inquiry was launched by the Home Secretary Jack Straw, investigating both the killing and the police response.
When it was released in February 1999, the damning 350-page report concluded that the investigation was “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership.”
Of its 70 recommendations, mostly aimed at improving police attitudes to racism, 67 led quickly to changes in working practices or the law.
Crucially, it also recommended that the “double jeopardy” law, which prevented defendants being tried again on the same charges, should be abolished – this came into practice from 2005.
More than a decade later, and after members of the gang had been jailed for other crimes, this law change meant that Gary Dobson and David Norris could once more be charged over Lawrence’s death, following the discovery of new forensic evidence.
This included a blood spot on Dobson’s jacket and hairs found in Norris’s bedroom, both of which were identified as Lawrence’s – the court also saw covert video footage captured in 1994 which showed Norris talking about “skinning” black people.
Their trial began at the Old Bailey in November 2011, and after six weeks in court Dobson and Norris were found guilty of murder in January 2012, both receiving life sentences.
In 2018, ahead of the 25th anniversary of Lawrence’s death, the police suggested that the case was “unlikely the progress further” unless detectives received new evidence.
Thu, 22 Apr 2021 08:00:00 +0100
The public inquiry into undercover policing is set to mark Stephen Lawrence Day with a minute's silence in memory of the murdered teenager
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The public inquiry into undercover policing is set to mark Stephen Lawrence Day with a minute’s silence in memory of the murdered teenager.
Undercover officers spied on the justice campaign for the 18-year-old, who was murdered by a gang of racists in Eltham, south east London, in 1993.
Incompetence, alleged corruption and racism in the police meant that it took nearly 20 years to convict two of his killers, while the remaining three have never been brought to justice.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry will hold a minute’s silence on Thursday, the anniversary of Stephen’s death, in his memory.
The black teenager’s parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and his friend, Duwayne Brooks, who was with him on the night he died, were all reported on by undercover police and are all classed as core participants in the public inquiry.
As well as remembering Stephen, on Friday a minute’s silence will be held for anti-racism campaigner Blair Peach, who died after being hit over the head by a police officer during a protest in Southall, west London, on April 24 1979.
His partner, Celia Stubbs, who will give evidence to the inquiry in the next few weeks, was spied upon by undercover officers as she campaigned for justice.
The current series of hearings in the mammoth public inquiry is looking at police activity between 1973 and 1982.
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– April 22, 2021
Stephen Lawrence Who killed ? How killers Gary Dobson and David