Black student killed 'out of racist hatred'

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The Independent Online
A black student was murdered by a gang of white youths simply because of the colour of his skin, a court heard yesterday. Stephen Lawrence, 18, died from two stab wounds inflicted by racist attackers, motivated by a "deep-felt hatred" of blacks, the Old Bailey was told.

Michael QC, prosecuting, told the all-white jury: "There can be no mistaking that it was an unprovoked, unwarranted attack by those who hold not just racist views but racist views which involve the desecration of those who are black by injury and possibly death. Whoever did this was someone who had a deep-felt hatred of black people existing."

Later, Mr Lawrence's friend, Dwayne Brooks, described seeing the A-level student stabbed and then collapsing on the ground "with blood running on the floor".

Three men are the subject of a private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family. Gary Gibson, 20, of Bromley, Luke Knight, 19, of Eltham and Neil Acourt, 20, of Eltham, all south-east London, all deny murder.

Mr Mansfield outlined the events leading up to the killing on 22 April 1993, almost exactly three years ago. Mr Lawrence, who attended Bluecoat School in south-east London, was a "ordinary" young man who started that day not knowing it was to be his last. He and Mr Brooks were on their way home from an evening with Mr Lawrence's uncle when they stopped at a bus stop in Wellhall Road, Eltham after 10pm, said Mr Mansfield. Soon afterwards, they were approached by a group of four to six white youths - whom the prosecution says included the defendants - one of whom shouted "What, what, nigger" to them. When approached, the black men tried to run but Mr Lawrence was not as quick to escape as his friend, Mr Mansfield said.

Mr Lawrence was surrounded and struck by an overarm blow with a weapon such as a "rather large kitchen knife". Two wounds, on either side of his chest severed vital arteries and he was pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Mr Mansfield said the jury might think that the white youths, who fled into the night, had only one object on their minds that evening, which was to cause serious injury to one or other of the black youths. "This attack was swift, merciless and vicious. They approached together, attacked together and disappeared together."

Mr Brooks, 21, told the jury that one of the white youths had stabbed his friend "with something long". The hearing was adjourned for legal argument.

The case continues.