Timeline: the first Lawrence murder investigation


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The Independent Online

22 April 1993: Stephen Lawrence is murdered in Eltham, south-east London.


23 April: The first of many anonymous tip-offs names five suspects, including Gary Dobson and David Norris.

24 April: DS John Davidson joins the murder investigation. He interviews an informant, known as James Grant, who identified Neil and Jamie Acourt as gang leaders.

25 April: DS Davidson interviews Stacey Benefield, who was stabbed a month before Stephen died and makes a statement saying the attack was carried out by David Norris in the company of Neil Acourt. DS Davidson later says Mr Benefield's allegations would have justified the arrests of Norris and Acourt, and did not know why no such arrests were made.

26 April: Neil Acourt is seen leaving his home carrying a binliner but police photographers are unable to call for back-up as they have no means of communication.

7 May: Police swoop on the Acourts and Gary Dobson. Det Chief Supt Brian Weeden later admitted he did not know the law would have allowed him to make arrests much earlier on the basis of "reasonable suspicion". DS Davidson conducts the interview of Dobson. He is not given a crucial piece of evidence – photographs showing Dobson and Norris together – which would have allowed him to counter Dobson's denials he knew Norris.

Late 1993: DS Davidson joins the South East Regional Crime Squad. While on the anti-drugs unit he is accused by DC Neil Putnam of engaging in at least three corrupt acts as well as revealing in a conversation that he was in a corrupt relationship with gangster Clifford Norris.

16 February 1996: DS Davidson reports sick following allegations that he and colleagues "moonlighted" for an Australian businessman.

March 1998: DS Davidson retires from the Met a month before he is due to appear before a disciplinary tribunal.

16 March: Sir William Macpherson's public inquiry starts to hear evidence.

24 and 27 April: DS Davidson gives evidence to the inquiry and is later criticised for his refusal to see the murder as purely racist. However, the inquiry finds there is no evidence that he deliberately tried to thwart the investigation.

12 June: Sir John Stevens, then Commissioner of the Met, responds to a letter from Sir William seeking confirmation that there are no corruption inquiries related to Lawrence case officers or the suspects by saying there are no such investigations.

28 July: DC Putnam gives testimony to his anti-corruption unit debriefers about his claimed bent dealings with DS Davidson. He alleges DS Davidson also told him about corruption in the original Lawrence investigation – claims which were denied by the Yard.

11 September: The Yard tells the Macpherson inquiry there are new corruption allegations against DS Davidson – but states they do not relate to the Lawrence murder investigation.