Stephen Lawrence: Killers Jailed For Life

January 4th, 20124:35 pm @


Stephen Lawrence: Killers Jailed For Life

Gary Dobson and David Norris have been jailed for a minimum of 15 years and two months and 14 years and three months respectively for the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence.

The pair, 36 and 35, were handed life sentences at the Old Bailey after being found guilty of the 1993 killing on Tuesday.

Mr Justice Treacy had to sentence the men as juveniles, because of their ages at the time they committed the crime.

He was also bound to follow guidelines from 1993 – which saw the killers sentenced to terms around half the length of what they might expect had they committed the crimes today.

The judge told the court the sentence may be lower than some would expect, but that he had to follow the law.

Gary Dobson (L) and David Norris

Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted at the Old Bailey


During the course of his sentencing remarks, he said the only reason for the “terrible and evil crime” was racial hatred, and that Mr Lawrence was blameless.

He said: “A totally innocent 18-year-old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street in front of eye witnesses by a racist, thuggish gang.

“You were both members of that gang. I have no doubt at all that you fully subscribed to its views and attitudes.”

He said the evidence in the trial could not prove who wielded the knife, but said that whoever used it had done so with Dobson and Norris’s “knowledge and approval”.


Launching a personal Twitter feed within minutes of the jury’s verdicts, ‘Mr Westbrook’ wrote: “If Duwayne Brooks had not lied about what happened that night maybe the police would have got to the truth sooner.

Read our crime correspondent Martin Brunt’s blog


He said: “Whilst the attack on Stephen Lawrence himself clearly could not have been premeditated since it was a chance encounter, I cannot accept that a crime of this type simply arose on the spur of the moment.

“The way in which the attack took place strongly suggests to me that your group, if not actively seeking out a victim, was prepared, if the opportunity arose, to attack in the way in which you did.”

He said that undercover police footage of the pair using racist obscenities showed “disgusting and shocking scenes”, and added that neither had showed any contrition for their crimes.

“Neither of you has shown the slightest regret or remorse. Each of you has lied to the court,” he said.

Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed in 1993


As he sentenced them, Dobson’s father Stephen shouted from the public gallery: “Shame on all of you.”

Read Mr Justice Treacey’s sentencing remarks in full here

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Mr Lawrence’s father Neville said the sentencing was “only one step in a long, long journey” and expressed hope that other killers would now be brought to justice.

“One of my greatest hopes is that these people have now realised that they have been found out, and they are now going to go and lie down in their beds and think that they were the whole ones who were responsible for the death of my son.

“And they are going to give up the rest of the people so that I (can) come out here again in a year’s time and talk to you people again.”

His mother Doreen said she understood that the judge’s hands were “tied” in giving the sentences that he did and said she was glad he had recognised the stress the case had caused her family.

She added: “It is the beginning of starting a new life because we have been in limbo for so long.”

US civil rights campaigner Reverend Jesse Jackson said the length of the sentences “cheapens black life”.

“Justice should be swift and sure. The killing was sure but the justice is incomplete because there are still killers on the loose.

“Somebody in the community who knows where the other three are has some moral obligation to let their conscience be their guidance and speak out.”

The jail terms came as Scotland Yard commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told a press conference “the other people involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence should not rest easily in their beds”.

A-level student Mr Lawrence died after he was attacked by a gang of youths and stabbed at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London.

The landmark case exposed what Lord Macpherson described in his subsequent inquiry into the case as “institutional racism” in the Metropolitan Police force.

Jack Straw, the former home secretary who ordered the Macpherson Inquiry in 1997, said the murder triggered a “sea change” in race relations.

He said: “We have still got a lot further to go because if you are black or Asian and you are young, your sense of how you are treated is very different and more adverse and is very different from anybody else.

“I think we have probably got most of the legislation we need in place.

“It is about ensuring people are less tolerant of racism, whether it is explicit – of which I think there is much less these days – or just implicit, lazy, uncaring, intruding remarks made in the heat of the moment, on the football field and so on.”

Read more on the Stephen Lawrence case:

:: Stephen’s movements on the night of the attack

:: How the case hinged on new forensics

:: Revealed: The criminal past of the Lawrence Killers

:: How the Lawrence case helped end double jeopardy

:: The impact of the Lawrence case on policing



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