Fresh prosecution ruled out over Lawrence murder

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The Independent Online

There is not enough evidence to mount a new prosecution against anyone for the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

There is not enough evidence to mount a new prosecution against anyone for the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, the Crown Prosecution Service said today.

The CPS confirmed it had advised the Metropolitan Police that there was "insufficient evidence" to prosecute anyone for Stephen's murder and the attack on his friend, Duwayne Brooks.

The decision follows a five-year re-investigation by the Met of the killing of Stephen, who was fatally stabbed in April 1993 in a racially-motivated attack as he waited for a bus in Eltham, south east London.

In a statement, the CPS said a special casework lawyer had "thoroughly reviewed" all the evidence from the re-investigation and previous investigations.

It said it had also sought advice from senior counsel who reviewed the same material and independently came to the same conclusion as the reviewing lawyer.

The CPS pointed out that although the re-investigation did produce an eye witness who had not previously come forward, their evidence did not provide reliable identification of any individual in relation to the attack.

The material available did not provide "any clear, credible identification evidence" from any witness, it said.

There was no credible forensic evidence which placed any specific individual at the scene of the murder, it added.

The CPS said it had also studied alleged confessions, but that almost all had proved to be secondhand hearsay and unverifiable and therefore not admissible.

None were sufficient to support a prosecution, it said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald QC, said: "I realise that Mr and Mrs Lawrence and Duwayne Brooks will have hoped for a different conclusion to the review so that someone could be prosecuted for the terrible crime that happened.

"Our policy is to prosecute racist crimes firmly and robustly wherever the evidence allows and we are fully committed to that principle.

"We all need to reflect on this dreadful murder and recognise the profound effect it has had on our national consciousness.

"However, no matter how important or serious a case is, if on the strength of the evidence it does not pass the test that we apply, it must not go ahead. That is the position in this case."

Claire Ward, CPS London's special casework lawyer, said: "We have conducted a very thorough review of every item of evidence relevant to this case to establish whether it would be admissible in court and would support a prosecution.

"I have also had the benefit of looking through the papers from the private prosecution for which I am very grateful to Mr and Mrs Lawrence.

"The police have carried out a very thorough re-investigation: investigating officers have followed up all additional questions senior counsel and I have put to them, provided extra material as we've requested it and conducted further investigation wherever we have suggested it.

"However, despite this, there is no reliable, admissible evidence which places any identifiable suspect at the murder scene at the time it took place."