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Lawrence duo charged over depot break-in

TWO OF the five suspects in the murder of the black student Stephen Lawrence were yesterday charged with burglary in connection with an alleged break-in at a drinks depot.

David Norris and Jamie Acourt are alleged to have stolen empty soda syphons from a wholesale drinks company in Swanley, Kent.

Norris, 22, from Chislehurst, Kent, was remanded in custody after a day of questioning at Gravesend police station in Kent. Acourt, also 22, from Greenwich in south-east London, and Danny Mark Caetano, 23 - who was not a suspect in the Lawrence case - were arrested on an industrial estate in Swanley, Kent and later released on bail.

A date for their court appearance has not yet been set.

A Kent Police spokesman said: "They have been charged with burglary. The case against them is that they stole 32 cases of empty soda syphons valued at pounds 224." He said that Norris would remain in custody and will appear before magistrates this morning.

The spokesman added: "The other two are being released on police conditional bail to appear in court on a date to be set."

The three men were arrested at 3.30am yesterday. They are alleged to have stolen the soda syphons from the drinks' distributor Matthew Clark Wholesale in Mark Way.

Staff at the depot, which is on a small industrial estate near the M25, refused to comment.

The arrests come at a time when the Lawrence suspects have been engaged in what some regard as a publicity strategy designed to overturn the widely held belief - even though the case against them collapsed - that they were responsible for Stephen's murder.

Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen Lawrence, were outraged when the five men took part in a television programme earlier this month in which they claimed to have had nothing to do with the killing.

Norris and Acourt, together with Jamie's brother Neil, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson, had all refused to give evidence to the public inquiry into Stephen's death but were each named as suspects in the inquiry report produced by the retired judge Sir William Macpherson.

Last week, Dobson participated in a live radio phone-in programme, in which he professed his wish to write a book about his experience of the Stephen Lawrence saga.

Yesterday, the families of the two arrested Lawrence suspects refused to comment on the development.

Jamie Acourt's mother Patricia, speaking from the family home in Greenwich, south-east London, said: "I have no comment." A woman, thought to be David Norris' mother Teresa, appeared behind security gates at their family home in Chislehurst, Kent, but also refused to comment.