Stephen Lawrence trial begins 18 years after his death

Trevon Muhammad November 14, 2011 3

Today, 18 years after their teenage son was stabbed in a racist attack, the parents of Stephen Lawrence will watch as two men stand trial for his murder at the Old Bailey. Gary Dobson, 36 and David Norris, 35 are accused of being members of the gang who killed the A-Level student at a bus stop in Eltham, South East London in 1993.

Dobson was one of three youths who stood trial for the murder of the teenager in 1996 after a Private Prosecution was brought by Mr Lawrence’s parents at the Old Bailey. All three were found not guilty but Mr Dobson’s acquittal was quashed and a retrial was ordered in September 2010.

The trail, which is expected to last at least six weeks was brought about after new scientific evidence emerged according to a summary of the appeal court’s official judgement.

“The present application depends on the reliability of new scientific evidence which by reference to the grey bomber jacket (LH/5) and the multi-coloured cardigan (ASR/2) closely links Dobson with the fatal attack on Stephen Lawrence.

 “If reliable, the new scientific evidence would place Dobson in very close proximity indeed to Stephen Lawrence at the moment of and in the immediate aftermath of the attack; proximity, moreover, for which no innocent explanation can be discerned.”

David Norris and Gary Dobson. Photograph: CPS

A reporting restriction meant that the retrial was only announced to the Public in May, earlier this year. On the day reporting restrictions had been lifted, Stephen’s parents Nevile and Doreen, expressed their hopes for the trail;

‘I’ve waited 18 years. I look forward to seeing justice at last. It has been a very long road.’

Mrs Lawrence added: ‘All I can think about is Stephen and that perhaps we will finally get justice for him.’

The murder of Stephen Lawrence was one of the most shocking incidents of the 1990’s. While waiting for a bus in South East London, he was attacked by a gang of white youths and received five inch stab wounds in his chest and arms. The wounds served his vital arteries and he died shortly after.

After an initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but none were convicted and prompting widespread criticism of the Crown Prosecution service and the Police for their handling of the case.

An inquiry into the Original Police investigation of the case led by Sir William Macpherson concluded that the force was “institutionally racist” in 1999.

This conclusion mirrors the growing feeling in communities across the country that black people are discriminated against and targeted by the Police force.  Mark Duggan, Smiley Culture, Demetre Frasier, Kinsley Burrell and Jacob Michaels are among a number of those who have died in suspicious circumstances in Police Custody this year alone.

Despite evidence of Police misconduct and in the case of Jacob Michaels harrowing witness testimonies, no one has been charged in connection to the deaths of the aforementioned men. This latest trial in relation to Stephen Lawrence’s tragic death, offers the judicial system another opportunity to prove that it is capable of delivering Justice in the eyes of ethnic minorities, who have grown accustomed to feeling as if lives of their people are not valued in British Society.

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