She stared. He wept. The 18-year wait for a guilty verdict was over

The Verdict

In the taut silence of an Old Bailey courtroom yesterday, Doreen Lawrence shed a single tear. Almost 19 years after her eldest son was knifed to death by a racist gang, the foreman of a jury had handed her – at last – some measure of justice.

Mrs Lawrence had sat through seven weeks of evidence about the gang – which "swallowed" Stephen at 10.35pm on 22 April 1993 – and had campaigned ceaselessly since his death for the capture of his killers.

As Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of murder, her composure showed only the slightest signs of shaking. Some 10ft to her right, her ex-husband Neville, with whom she rarely shared a word during the trial, repeatedly wiped away tears.

He later described the moment as coming up for air having been underwater – "I felt as if my heart was going to come through my mouth" – and pleaded with the convicted men to name the others who had murdered Stephen for being black.

After one public inquiry, five Metropolitan Police commissioners and a fundamental change in the British criminal justice system that had been found woefully lacking, two of the 18-year-old's killers were served with their retribution at 2.36pm yesterday.

Mr Lawrence, 69, said he felt "joy and relief" at the verdicts, but added outside court that he was conscious that five or six men had attacked his son. Of Dobson and Norris, he said last night: "I'm praying that... before the sentence is passed, they will talk and give the rest of these people that killed my son up."

Police revealed that nine other men – all members of the gang headed by Norris and his friend Neil Acourt – remain under suspicion for being part of the murder. Scotland Yard sources say that the nine include three of the men who have previously been accused of the murder – Neil Acourt, his younger brother Jamie and Luke Knight – and six other people who had ties to the gang.

Sixteen suspects were arrested during the course of the inquiry since 1993. But Alison Saunders, the chief crown prosecutor for London, said: "The only evidence at the moment where there was a realistic prospect of conviction is with Dobson and Norris."

The verdicts yesterday came after nine hours of deliberation by a jury of eight men and four women, who decided that what defence lawyers described as "less than a teaspoon" of forensic evidence had proven the guilt of the two defendants.

As he was led away, Gary Dobson, 36, who was a 17-year-old college student on the night he joined the gang that inflicted two 13cm-deep knife wounds on Stephen in 10 seconds of unprovoked hate, showed some of the snarling defiance which became the calling card of the Lawrence suspects.

He shouted to the jury, who learnt yesterday that he was already serving five years for drug dealing when arrested for the murder in 2010: "You have condemned an innocent man here today. I hope you can all live with it."

His fellow killer, a sallow-faced 35-year-old who was 16 in 1993, seemed to smile to himself as he was taken down. Norris, who was jailed in 2002 for racially abusing an off-duty police officer near the scene where Stephen Lawrence was murdered, is the son of a notorious drug dealer who police say schooled the suspects on how to avoid justice for years. The pair will be sentenced by Mr Justice Treacy today, and will serve a minimum of 12 years, the sentencing taking into account that they were juveniles at the time of the murder.

Outside the court, Mrs Lawrence, 59, flanked by Stephen's younger brother Stuart, said she felt no sense of celebration at the fact that the killers of her "bright, beautiful" son whom she missed "with a passion" had been convicted after the botched police investigations which saw the Met formally branded "institutionally racist".

In a statement, she said: "Today is not a cause for celebration. How can I celebrate when my son lies buried? How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police, who were meant to find my son's killers, failed so miserably to do so. These are not reasons to celebrate.

"All I feel now is relief. Relief that two of my son's killers have finally been caught and brought to justice. Relief that these racist men can no longer think that you can murder a black man and get away with it."

Scotland Yard insisted it was "not the end of the road" and that shifting allegiances and new scientific breakthroughs could see more men in the dock. However, fears were raised yesterday that failings in the crucial initial days of the police operation mean no further prosecutions will be possible.

The two were eventually convicted on the basis of tiny blood spots, fibres and hairs from Stephen Lawrence that were discovered on clothes seized from their homes during police raids on 7 May 1993 after a cold case review.

As the Lawrences stood outside the Old Bailey, a small crowd cheered them and traffic stopped. Before he drove off, the white driver of a black taxi shouted: "Thank God, finally justice."

* 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

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

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before