Stephen Lawrence: Black teenager's remaining racist killers still at large as Met Police closes investigation

'It is well-known that other suspects were also involved in the events which unfolded that night and it is deeply frustrating that we have been unable to bring them to justice,' says commissioner

Lizzie Dearden
Home Affairs Correspondent
Tuesday 11 August 2020 15:57
Stephen Lawrence murder investigation shelved, Cressida Dick confirms

The remaining men accused of murdering black teenager Stephen Lawrence will not face justice after police closed their investigation.

The Metropolitan Police announced that “all identified lines of enquiry have been completed” and no further prosecutions can currently be brought over the 1993 attack.

Two of the 18-year-old’s murderers – Gary Dobson and David Norris – were convicted and jailed in 2012 but Stephen had been attacked by a group and five suspects were originally arrested.

The initial investigation was hit by allegations of racial discrimination and corruption that sparked the damning Macpherson Report that found institutional racism at Scotland Yard.

Dame Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner, said she and the investigator in charge of the case had met with Stephen’s parents to explain the move.

“This was an appalling racist murder and I am sad that we have been unable to secure further convictions for Stephen, his family and friends,” she added.

“We were able to secure two convictions following a determined investigation in 2012 but it is well-known that other suspects were also involved in the events which unfolded that night and it is deeply frustrating that we have been unable to bring them to justice.

“As a result of ceaseless campaigning for justice by Stephen’s parents, profound changes have happened in policing, the law and wider society. I pay tribute to them for their courage and achievements.

“And today my thoughts are with them and all Stephen’s loved ones.”

Dame Cressida said that any new information that comes to light will be considered and the investigation will be periodically reviewed for new investigative opportunities.

Advances in forensic technology led to the convictions of Dobson and Norris, after investigators were able to analyse microscopic blood stains and hair fragments for the first time.

Met Police 'transformed' since Stephen Lawrence death, Commissioner Cressida Dick says

Evidence was reviewed again as part of the latest stage of the investigation starting in 2014, with more than 50 exhibits from the crime scene being retested, including the suspects’ belongings and Stephen’s clothing.

Scotland Yard said it obtained the DNA profile of a woman from a discarded bag strap, but that she and other potential witnesses were not identified after public appeals for information.

Police were also seeking to speak to a man spotted near the murder scene, and another man who called Crimewatch in April 2013 saying he had information.

Stephen was murdered in an unprovoked racist attack on 22 April 1993.

The teenager had been waiting for a bus with his friend, Duwayne Brooks, on Well Hall Road in Eltham, southeast London.

Mr Brooks saw a group of white youths moving towards them and said he heard one call Stephen a “n****r” before they started a brutal attack.

He was forced to the ground and stabbed, managing to run more than 100 metres before collapsing and dying of his injuries.

The initial Metropolitan Police investigation identified five suspects: Dobson, Norris, brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, and Luke Knight.

Acourt and Knight were charged with murder but the prosecution was discontinued in court, then a 1994 private prosecution brought by Stephen’s family against all five suspects failed.

They attended a 1997 inquest into his death but did not answer questions, and in the same year, an investigation by the Police Complaints Authority revealed there were weaknesses and lost opportunities in the original investigation, including inexplicable delays in arresting suspects.

Jack Straw ordered a public inquiry by a former High Court judge, Sir William Macpherson, which found the Metropolitan Police to be institutionally racist in 1999 and made 70 recommendations.

Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee is currently conducting an inquiry examining what has changed in the 21 years since the Macpherson report was released.

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