Gary Dobson and David Norris found guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence

 

Stephen Lawrence's parents today expressed joy and relief as two men were convicted of his murder nearly 19 years after he was stabbed to death.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were both found guilty of murder by a jury at the Old Bailey.

They will receive jail sentences tomorrow, but will be sentenced as juveniles because of their ages at the time of the murder.

Mr Lawrence died in a racist attack by a gang of white youths in Eltham, south east London in April 1993.

Standing outside the Old Bailey with her surviving son Stuart, Doreen Lawrence said her relief at the verdict was mixed with anger that it had taken the police so long to get a prosecution.

With her voice breaking at points, Mrs Lawrence said: "Despite these verdicts, today is not a cause for celebration. How can I celebrate when my son lies buried, when I cannot see him or speak to him.

"When I will not see him grow up or go to university, or get married or have children. These verdicts will not bring my son back."

She said that police had "failed so miserably" to catch her son's killers.

Neville Lawrence said: "My life was torn apart by the senseless murder of my son over 18 years ago.

"Unfortunately no one was brought before a court at that time, as they should have been.

"The loss itself together with the lack of justice have meant that I have not been able to rest all this time.

"I am therefore full of joy and relief that today, finally, two of my son's killers have been convicted for his murder."

He added: "Something has happened over the last seven weeks - I have watched justice being done."

However Mr Lawrence said he could not rest until all his son's attackers were caught.

The Metropolitan Police faced fierce criticism of the original investigation into Mr Lawrence's death.

A public inquiry branded the force institutionally racist and claims were made by Mr and Mrs Lawrence's lawyers that some officers were influenced by Norris' former drugs baron father.

Acting Deputy Commissioner for the Met Cressida Dick said that the couple's unstinting campaign to get justice for their son "contributed to major changes within policing, the law and society as a whole".

The breakthrough in the investigation came when a cold case team of forensic scientists were called in.

They found tiny traces of blood, hair and fibres on clothing seized from Dobson and Norris' homes.

The defence had claimed that the material got there via contamination, but this was rejected by the jury.

During the trial, which began on November 14, they were shown police surveillance footage from 1994 of Dobson and Norris using racial slurs.

In the film Norris also launched into a violent tirade about how he would kill and torture black people.

As they were led away, Dobson told the jury: "You have condemned an innocent man here. I hope you can live with yourselves."

His mother Pauline called out from the public gallery above: "He didn't kill that man."

After a short further hearing, relatives called down to the pair saying "I love you". Dobson and Norris told them "stay strong".

Both men continue to protest their innocence. Stephen Batten QC, for Norris, told the court that he maintains he was not there at the time of the attack.

Mr Lawrence's friend Duwayne Brooks, who was with him when he was killed, welcomed the verdicts, writing on Twitter: "Some JUSTICE at last."

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "In the 19 years since his murder, Stephen Lawrence's family has fought tirelessly for justice.

"Today's verdict cannot ease the pain of losing a son.

"But, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, I hope that it brings at least some comfort after their years of struggle."

The recommended starting point for Dobson and Norris' sentence tomorrow will be around 12 years because they were 17 and 16 respectively at the time of the attack.

However the judge may increase this because of the racially motivated aspect of the case, and the fact that they realised that one of group might use a knife.

PA

* Stephen Lawrence: How the case breakthrough came
* A shrunken family: The first journalist to interview the Lawrences recalls the scene
* The science that helped convict Gary Dobson