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
News
election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
News
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
News
people
Voices
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'