Pair convicted of Stephen Lawrence race murder in London

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 A composite image of undated handout pictures shows Gary Dobson (L) and David Norris (R)


Two men were found guilty in London Tuesday of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty at the Old Bailey courthouse after a trial based on forensic evidence recovered after a cold case review.

Their conviction is the culmination of a case that has gripped the British media for almost two decades and resulted in a public inquiry that was heavily critical of the police for their handling of the case.

The head of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, set up by the teenager’s family after his murder, welcomed the verdict “with a sense of huge relief.”

“Throughout the 18-year ordeal, the Lawrence family’s desire has been the pursuit of justice — today, justice was served,” chief executive Paul Anderson-Walsh said in a written statement.

“Stephen Lawrence’s murder leaves in its wake a changed criminal justice landscape, but it is a change in the social justice topography that the Lawrence family hopes will be Stephen Lawrence’s lasting legacy.”

Duwayne Brooks, a friend of Lawrence who was with him on the night of the murder and testified in the course of the trial, posted on Twitter: “Some justice at last.”

Dobson and Norris will be sentenced Wednesday. They had denied the murder charge.

Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death in southeast London in an unprovoked attack. He was a good student who had applied to study architecture at university.

The Macpherson Report in 1999 labeled the Metropolitan Police force “institutionally racist” and said its investigation of the murder was fundamentally flawed. It also made a series of recommendations intended to stamp out racism and ensure police were properly trained on the issue.

The report concluded that “Stephen Lawrence’s murder was simply and solely and unequivocally motivated by racism.”

Dobson had previously appeared in court in 1996 accused of the murder of Lawrence but that case, a private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family, collapsed and he was acquitted.

His latest trial on the same charge was allowed thanks to a change in the centuries-old “double jeopardy” law under which a person who had been acquitted could not be tried again for the same offense. In a change that came into effect in 2005 in England and Wales, a second trial is allowed if substantial new evidence emerges.

The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, set up by parents Neville and Doreen Lawrence, helps young people who want to study architecture, as was their son’s dream.


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