Eighteen years after Lawrence death, jury retires to weigh verdict

Judge tells jurors to set aside any emotions as they start deliberations in murder trial

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The Independent Online

A jury must consider if violent racist comments caught on camera by two men accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence was "big talk by teenage boys" or indicated their involvement in his fatal stabbing, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Mr Justice Treacy said the footage recorded in a flat by police 20 months after the killing was just one thing the jury had to review "on the basis of cool, calm consideration" as he sent them out in a case that has entered its seventh week.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, are accused of being part of a five- or six-strong racist gang that chased, surrounded and knifed Mr Lawrence as he was waiting for a bus in Eltham, south-east London, on 22 April, 1993.

The footage, secretly recorded at Mr Dobson's flat, captures him boasting of how he threatened to slash a black man with a knife, the court has heard. Mr Norris is heard telling friends of a fantasy about spending his final moments running riot with guns killing ethnic minorities and police. Mr Dobson told the trial he felt disgusted and embarrassed at the secret recordings after they came to light and claimed he was not racist.

"The Crown says it makes it more likely that if they were taking part in the attack they had the necessary state of mind to make them guilty of murder," the judge said yesterday.

The two men were charged with murder after new scientific evidence came to light in 2008. It included fibres from Stephen Lawrence's clothing and a tiny bloodstain found on a jacket owned by Mr Dobson. The chances the blood did not come from Mr Lawrence were a billion to one, the court has heard.

The two men deny murder and claim forensic material linking them to the attack is a result of contamination after their clothing and that of Mr Lawrence were stored in the same place.

Both Mr Dobson and Mr Norris claim they were at home at the time of the attack. Mr Norris's mother said she was certain her son had been at home. But the judge said that jury must ask why the family had told police of the alibi in 1993. "You will have to consider whether a mother, seeing her son accused of a murder at the time when on her own account she would have been certain he was at home, would have said nothing.

"The Crown suggests she had come along to help her son and has not given truthful evidence. She insisted she had."

The jury of eight men and four women was sent out at 2.40pm yesterday and told by Mr Justice Treacy to take as long as they needed and to return with a unanimous verdict. It will continue considering its verdicts today.