Killers may have to move prisons for their own safety

Dobson and Norris begin sentences in top-security Belmarsh jail just miles from murder scene

Gary Dobson and David Norris may be moved to a different prison because of their vulnerability to attack following their sentencing yesterday to a combined total of 29 years' imprisonment for the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

The two men are being held at Belmarsh top-security prison in south-east London, less than three miles from Eltham, where the killing took place. But it is understood the prison authorities are considering moving the pair in the wake of their convictions to protect them from reprisals.

Norris was badly beaten in September 2010 at Belmarsh while being held on remand for the Lawrence murder. He suffered broken ribs and damage to his hearing in an altercation with three ethnic minority prisoners who complained that Norris was trying to throw his weight around. It is likely the pair will be moved to a different prison or transferred to a segregated wing where vulnerable prisoners, including paedophiles, are housed.

The two men were told by Mr Justice Treacy at the Old Bailey yesterday that their "terrible and evil" crime was carried out for no other reason than racial hatred as a group of white youths shouted abuse and surrounded Stephen near a bus stop in Eltham on 22 April 1993. The judge told the court, where Dobson and Norris were found guilty of murder on Tuesday, that he could not be sure if either of them wielded the knife used to inflict the two fatal wounds – between 12 and 13cm in depth – on their victim.

But the judge, addressing both killers as they stood in the dock, said they were just as culpable for the murder as whoever had carried the weapon, adding: "Neither of you has shown the slightest regret or remorse."

Dobson, 36, was told he must serve a minimum of 15 years and two months and Norris, 35, will serve 14 years and three months. As the two men were taken down, Dobson's father, Steven, shouted: "Shame on all of you." The court was told that if their crime had been committed by an adult in modern times, each killer would serve a life sentence with a minimum of around 30 years. But because the two men were under 18 at the time of Stephen's killing, and because of legislation in force at the time, the sentence was lower.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Treacy called the killing of Stephen Lawrence "a terrible and evil crime", adding that it was a "murder which scarred the conscience of the nation".

The judge told the pair: "A totally innocent 18-year-old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street in front of eyewitnesses by a racist, thuggish gang.

"You were both members of that gang. I have no doubt at all that you fully subscribed to its views and attitudes." The evidence in the trial could not prove who wielded the knife, but he said that whoever used it had done so with Dobson and Norris's "knowledge and approval".

Doreen Lawrence, Stephen's mother, said she understood that the law's provisions on juvenile sentencing meant that her son's killers would serve less time in prison than if they had been adults. Speaking outside court, Mrs Lawrence said: "The sentences that happened may be quite low, but at the same time the judge's hands were tied. And for that, as much as he can do, I am very grateful."

The judge praised police, prosecutors and forensic scientists for putting together a successful case after the Metropolitan Police was "shamed and humbled" by the 1999 Macpherson inquiry into the killing. Addressing the senior police investigator DCI Clive Driscoll, the judge said: "Through you, I commend them all. At least a measure of justice has been achieved at last."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore