Memorial service for Stephen Lawrence

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The Independent Online

The parents of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence were this afternoon scheduled to attend a public memorial service in celebration of their son's life.

It will be a break from tradition for Neville and Doreen Lawrence, who usually remember Stephen - stabbed to death in an unprovoked race attack in April 1993 - in a private service as each anniversary approaches.

Malcolm Phillips, of the Stephen Lawrence Trust, said this year they were hoping for a more "positive and forward-looking" service.

The memorial takes place at the Trinity Methodist Church in Burrage Road, Plumstead, south east London.

"The service is to celebrate Stephen's short life," Mrs Lawrence said last week. "It is also to recognise what has been achieved in his name.

"The service is to signify that Stephen died, and through the sacrifice of his life, others have taken courage to push forward for change."

Up to 1,500 mourners are expected to join Mr and Mrs Lawrence at the service which will be conducted by the Rev Michael Baker and the Rev David Cruse.

Stephen, an A-level student, was stabbed to death as he waited at a bus stop with a friend in Eltham, south east London, seven years ago.

Earlier this week a knife and metal bar were found buried in the garden at the former home of two of the five prime suspects in the case.

The weapons were discovered underneath a patio by new householders after brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt moved out and followed two police searches of the garden, according to sources.

Highly sensitive forensic tests developed in the last year could reveal if the weapons were used in the murder by a racist gang seven years ago.

The tests are likely to take several weeks but advances in technology mean they could show up blood traces, samples of hair or even fingerprints.

Of the five suspects in the case - Jamie and Neil Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris - Neil Acourt, Knight and Dobson were formally acquitted of the murder four years ago, when a private prosecution brought by the Lawrences collapsed.

The case against Jamie Acourt and Norris was dropped before it reached court.