A lifetime since killing of Stephen Lawrence, trial starts with a 'clean slate'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Judge warns jury that, despite all the publicity, they must reach verdict on the evidence alone

Eighteen years after the killing of Stephen Lawrence, potential jurors in the trial of two men accused of murdering the black teenager were warned that they must "start with a clean slate".

Mr Justice Treacy ordered the pool of 24 potential jurors who will try one of the most notorious cases in recent legal history to ignore everything but the evidence that they will hear in court.

Mr Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death in April 1993 as he waited for a bus in Eltham, south London. His death led to accusations of police incompetence, a lengthy public inquiry and major ramifications for the criminal justice and legal systems.

Yesterday his parents Neville and Doreen Lawrence, who have fought for almost two decades for justice for their son, appeared in the back of a packed Old Bailey court at the start of the trial.

Just feet away Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, sat in the dock, both clad in suit and tie and flanked by security guards. Both deny murdering the A-level student.

Mr Justice Treacy warned the potential jurors that they would be dealing with a case that had generated a great deal of debate over the years: "There has been a series of police investigations and there have been criticisms of the way the police went about their task, particularly in the early years. There was a court hearing to do with the case in 1996. There was a public inquest in 1997 and there was a public inquiry conducted by a judge into the way the case had been investigated in 1998," he said. "All of these attracted a great deal of publicity and a great deal of public comment because it has aroused strong feelings. Indeed, accusations have been made in the media and elsewhere as to who was responsible for the killing of Stephen Lawrence. Accusations have been made about the competence of the police investigation into the case."

General knowledge of such a well-known killing was to be expected, the judge added, but it was essential the jury remember they had taken a solemn oath to deliver a true verdict according to the evidence alone.

The judge explained that the prosecution case would largely be based on scientific evidence which had emerged in a recent reinvestigation, with the defence planning to challenge this new evidence and the way such exhibits had been handled since 1993.

The jurors were chosen after vetting to remove anyone who lived in the vicinity of the killing or had any form of connection to the case. The trial is expect to last at least until Christmas.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballArsenal vs QPR match report
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
News
i100
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all