Police knew Lawrence murder witnesses were intimidated
Detective Inspector Benjamin Bullock, second in command on the murder investigation, told the public inquiry into Stephen's death that he believed local teenagers had been threatened by associates of Clifford Norris, a notorious south-east London criminal and father of David Norris.
"It came to our notice on one occasion that there were some people going around, warning off people in general on the estate," he said. "I believe they were connected with the Norris father, but I have no direct evidence of it."
David Norris was one of five white youths later charged with stabbing Stephen to death at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in a racially motivated attack in April 1993. None of them was ever convicted.
Det Insp Bullock, who is due to retire next year, claimed witnesses were also deterred from opening up to police because of the media's "undue emphasis on the racist nature of the attack".
"Witnesses were under enormous pressure from the media and the hype of racist attack," he said. "It seemed to be the one thing reported, it seemed to take the headlines all the time, just the racist part."
Det Insp Bullock said that one of a number of regrets that he harboured about the conduct of the murder investigation was his failure to seek the help of Scotland Yard's Witness Protection Scheme. Most of the witnesses, he said, were "people of 17, 16 years old who were obviously frightened and didn't want to get involved".
The inquiry was told that Det Insp Bullock was given a damning professional appraisal by Detective Superintendent Bill Mellish, the senior officer who took over the Lawrence investigation in July 1994.
Det Super Mellish told a Police Complaints Authority team last year that he found a "dispirited and negative team" working "in a dreadful environment".
He would have expected a good team leader to have tried to "rally morale, be tenacious in the quest for evidence and motivate a tired workforce", he said. "In the event, I found quite the opposite. I cannot recall one innovative or positive strategy emanating from DI Bullock."
Questioned by Edmund Lawson, QC, counsel for the inquiry, Det Insp Bullock agreed that there had been "an unreasonable delay" in acting on an early tip about the killers' identity. But he denied that he had shown "little or no interest" in "important and specific" information volunteered by a man who came into the police station less than 24 hours after the killing.
"There was interest, but at the time I was up to my eyeballs in other things," he said. "By the time I was free, he had left the station. If I have any regret, it is that I didn't see that man."
The inquiry continues today.
Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered...
Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
Brad Pitt, on the moment he completely lost his temper with Clint Eastwood's son
Jennifer Lawrence nude photos leak: More celebrities allegedly targeted as third wave of hacked images released
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
This is an unpaid volunteer role. : Belong: We are looking for volunteers who ...
£110 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: English Teacher - CaerphillyT...
Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: We have urgent and multiple vaca...
£115 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Full time WLM German Supply T...