Gang 'cheered as 10-second attack' left Lawrence dead

First witnesses describe how gang of white youths 'collided' with black teenager near bus stop

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The Independent Online

The racist gang that killed teenager Stephen Lawrence were "shouting and cheering" during the attack which left him fatally wounded, the murder trial heard yesterday.

The gang then walked away casually from the scene, leaving Mr Lawrence dying from two stab wounds.

It was a swift and "perplexing" attack lasting a mere 10 seconds, so brief that a group of people standing nearby boarded a bus and left, unaware of the tragedy that had just unfolded.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both deny being part of the gang of youths that attacked the 18-year-old.

Yesterday some of the last people to see Mr Lawrence alive on the night of 22 April 1993 took the stand. Hospital worker, Royston Westbrook, explained how he was on his way home after a shift finishing at 10pm when a rumoured strike compelled him, along with Mr Lawrence and his friend Duwayne Brooks, 18, to take another bus, stopping at the spot in Eltham, south London, that would become the scene of the crime a few minutes later.

The two teenagers decided to walk to a nearby roundabout to see if a bus was coming. A few seconds later they came running back, Mr Westbrook said, pursued by a gang of white youths. "They just collided, that's what it looked like," he said. "That's when they surrounded the pair of them. They grabbed Duwayne Brooks's wrist. He just turned his wrist and pulled away. Duwayne ran towards the bus stop we were standing at, shouting something like, 'Leg it Stephen' or 'Run Stephen'."

By then his friend had been surrounded and forced to the ground. "It looked, at the time, like someone threw a punch at him. Then one lifted his leg up to give him a good kicking," said Mr Westbrook.

The witness insisted he never saw a weapon or realised the severity of the attack: "It was so quick, it really was quick. It was about 10 seconds."

He added of the gang: "They just stood there for a few seconds and they walked up Dickson Road. They didn't run. They just walked off casually." Joseph Shepherd, who was also at the bus stop, described the white men "shouting and cheering" as they attacked Mr Lawrence and Mr Brooks.

Prosecuting, Mark Ellison QC asked him: "What happened when they met?"

Mr Shepherd replied: "A load of fists and then they just bundled in on top of them." The trial continues.