Norris says racist rant was 'simply naive'

35-year-old now claims that clothes taken by police as evidence from his home were his brother's
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The Independent Online

One of the men accused of killing teenager Stephen Lawrence insisted yesterday he had simply been "naive" when he used obscenely violent, racist language, graphically describing how he would like to kill black people.

David Norris, one of the original five suspects in the 18-year-old case, was recorded by police surveillance cameras in 1994, the year after the murder, using terms such as "nigger" and "coon" and referring to killing black people or skinning them alive.

Despite being 18 at the time, Mr Norris claimed it was simply a product of his immaturity and part of growing up in his part of south London.

The 35-year-old, who had a sickly pallor and receding hair line, looked frail as he entered the witness box at the Old Bailey yesterday to protest: "I never murdered nobody. I am an innocent man. I was not in Eltham."

After almost two decades of suspicion and accusations, he claimed for the first time that the clothes police took as evidence from his home were his younger brother's.

The court also heard from his mother Theresa, who was accused of giving her son a false alibi after she claimed that he was at home on 22 April 1993, the night that Mr Lawrence was set upon and fatally stabbed by a group of racist thugs.

Prosecutor Mark Ellison QC told Mrs Norris that she had invented the story: "The first that we've heard of any suggestion that you can alibi your son for this murder is today. I suggest to you that as a result of that you have made it up and it's a recent thing that you have made it up."

Mrs Norris said: "I haven't made nothing up," to which Mr Ellison replied: "There's not been a breath uttered until today that you were in a position to give your son an alibi."

Mr Norris, 35, and Gary Dobson, 36, both deny murder in a case which revolves around blood spots and flecks, as well as fibres and hairs found on their clothing when scientists re-examined the garments during a cold case review in 2006. While the defence dismiss the evidence as the product of cross-contamination by police, the prosecution insists that it proves the pair were among the violent gang that night. In particular, minute fibres from Mr Lawrence's clothes and hair were found on a pair of jeans and a light blue sweatshirt owned by Mr Norris.

In a thick south London accent, his voice trailing off at times, Mr Norris insisted yesterday he had only just moved into the bedroom at his mother's home that was searched by police in 1993, as it had recently been vacated by his younger brothers Clifford and Ben.

The jury were shown pictures of a 14-year-old Clifford wearing clothing similar to the jeans and sweatshirt while out fishing with a knife also seized by the police.