Stephen Lawrence's brother's desperate plea for witness to speak out

Murdered Stephen Lawrence’s brother says ‘now is the time to speak up’ as he issues plea for ‘brave’ witness to come forward with information on racist killing so his family can get ‘closure’ after Met Police closed investigation

  • Met Police said Stephen Lawrence murder investigation is now in ‘inactive’ stage
  • Urging witnesses to come forward, his brother said: ‘This is the time to speak up’
  • Two people have been convicted for murdering Stephen in Eltham in 1993 

The brother of Stephen Lawrence has urged witnesses to his murder 27 years ago to come forward after Met Police announced it was shelving its investigation.

Today Stuart Lawrence spoke to Good Morning Britain, speaking about the tragic loss his family have suffered when Stephen was stabbed to death in a racist attack in Eltham in 1993.

Yesterday Scotland Yard announced it was filing the case as ‘inactive’ – eight years after Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of murder.

Stephen Lawrence, 18, was killed by a group of racists in Eltham, South East London, in 1993

Mr Lawrence told GMB: ‘Even though we’ve had two people convicted, it wasn’t just two people there that night.  

‘If you do know what happened, this is the time now to speak up. 

‘In my mind that’s the only way we’re going to have true justice, if someone is brave enough to come forward and talk about what happened that fateful night and give us some closure, that’s what we want as a family.

‘You watch movies read story books about how injustices happen and in the light of day justice is served, even though that’s not the best thing to bring back that person.

‘But it gives the family some sort of closure.

‘I know after this I’m going to get people on social media channels saying how we should “just get over it”, but it’s our lives. 

‘I’ve lost my brother, my mum’s lost her child, my dad’s lost his child.’ 

Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick, pictured with Baroness Lawrence in 2018, said the investigation into Stephen’s murder will be ‘periodically reviewed’

Announcing Scotland Yard was changing the case to inactive yesterday, Met Police commissioner Cressida Dick said the force would periodically review their investigation should any more evidence come to light.

Mr Lawrence told GMB how retired detective Clive Driscoll saved an evidence bag that proved vital from being thrown away.

He said: ‘That evidence there is what helped convict the first two people.

‘I don’t know where this other evidence is coming from in my own mind. 

‘It’s going to come down to someone having that realisation of consciousness that what has happened has been a total injustice.

‘The only way to see this right, for us as a nation to move on is to come out and talk the truth.’ 

Stuart and Stephen’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, was granted her titled and appointed in the House of Lords in 2013.

Speaking on GMB today, Mr Lawrence suggested he may move into politics to fight against racial inequality.

He said: ‘Recently I’ve been thinking about this political stance that some people think the BLM has now.

‘That’s my next thought, does it need to be politicised? Do we need to form a party political base?  

‘All I can say to people is keep supporting it, keep supporting different platforms keep reaching out to people because when I fill the momentum of the force behind me that’s probably when I will feel the need that I can step up.’

Gary Dobson (left) and David Norris (right) were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in January 2012 after a trial that hinged on tiny traces of forensic evidence found years after the crime

GARY DOBSON (convicted)   

Gary Dobson was a teenage gang member turned drug supplier already behind bars for dealing cannabis by the time he faced trial over the Stephen Lawrence murder. 

A teenage racist, he had been caught on film making hate-filled remarks about black people. He was arrested and charged with Stephen’s murder while he was in custody in 2010.

His previous acquittal for Stephen’s murder was quashed by the Court of Appeal, allowing him to be tried for a second time.

He was forced to admit his racist views in 1994, when he was secretly recorded making vile comments to his friends on a camera planted in the skirting board of his council flat.

Two years earlier in November 1992, Kevin London, then a 16-year-old black youth, was confronted by a gang of white youths and claimed Dobson threatened him with a knife, although no full report was made to the police. 

DAVID NORRIS (convicted)

David Norris is a convicted racist and son of infamous south London gangster Clifford Norris. 

He was well known on the streets of Eltham by the time Stephen was killed and had had brushes with the law.

Within 24 hours of Stephen’s murder he was named as a member of a knife-wielding gang in two anonymous notes left for police and by an informant who spoke to detectives.

A year earlier Norris had been charged with wounding after allegedly taking part in an attack on two brothers during which one was stabbed with a knife. The charge was dropped in January 1993, three months before Stephen’s murder.

Then on March 18 he was accused of stabbing 20 year-old Stacey Benefield with a miniature sword during an scuffle in Kidbrooke, south London.

But Norris was cleared of involvement after a trial amid allegations there was contact between a juror and a minder connected to Norris. 

NEIL ACOURT (not convicted)

Knife-obsessed thug who has never provided a satisfactory alibi for his movements on the night of Stephen’s murder.

He claims he was at home all night but police do not believe his story. His name was linked to Stephen’s murder by a series of informants in the days following the killing.

When officers raided his home just a few minutes from the murder scene, they found a terrifying arsenal of knives. It was routine for him to carry blades while out and about in Eltham in the mid 1990s.

In 2001, he was convicted of possessing an offensive weapon, a baton, which he claimed he needed for protection from revenge attacks. The next year he and David Norris were jailed for 18 months for a racist attack on an off-duty black detective. 

JAMIE ACOURT (not convicted)

Along with his elder brother, revelled in the notoriety of being the other half of Eltham’s version of the Krays. He too had an unhealthy obsession in knives.

Like his brother, he was also named by police informants as being one of the murderers. His account of the evening when Stephen died does not match his brother’s story.

In a TV interview, he said he could not remember hearing of Stephen’s death until he saw it on TV the next day. Yet Neil said in the same programme that someone came to the door to inform him of a local stabbing.

Of great interest to the police is the fact that Gary Dobson has admitted going to the Acourts’ home about an hour after Stephen’s murder, supposedly to borrow a Bob Marley CD. Police believe that they met to get their stories straight.

Detectives have been unable to gather forensic evidence linking him to the murder and he was not positively identified by witnesses.

LUKE KNIGHT (not convicted)

Luke Knight has always maintained his innocence while police suspect a ‘sixth man’ might have been part of the gang

Although police informants suggested he was one of the gang, he has always maintained his innocence.

Along with Neil Acourt, he was charged with murder in 1993 but the case was dropped within weeks because of doubts over the evidence. He was formally acquitted of murder at the 1996 private prosecution.

He was not in the dock with Norris and Dobson because of lack of credible identification evidence, no confession and no forensics linking him to the murder. Because of double jeopardy laws, police would need a major breakthrough to snare him.

The 18-year-old was murdered by a group of racists while waiting for a bus in Eltham, South East London, in April 1993. 

Five men were named by the Daily Mail as his killers in February 1997, but it was not until January 2012 that two of the group were convicted of murder.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed for life at the Old Bailey after a trial that hinged on tiny traces of forensic evidence found years after the crime.

Two of the three remaining former suspects, brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, have since served jail time for drug dealing, while Luke Knight has remained free.

The original investigation failed to convict those responsible, and the campaign for justice by Stephen’s parents Baroness Lawrence and her former husband Neville led to a public inquiry which branded the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist.

In a statement releasedy yesterday, Stephen’s father Neville said: ‘I had hoped that the conviction of two of the killers in 2012 would lead to new evidence coming to light and a prosecution of the other suspects.

‘This has unfortunately not happened and, over the last few years, I have had to come to terms with the reality that some of the killers of Stephen may never be brought to justice for what they did. 

‘Stephen died 27 years ago in a senseless murder by racists. The tragedy of this for us was compounded by the initial police response and investigation which were tainted by racism and incompetence. The police failures meant that we as a family had to fight a system as well as deal with the grief of losing our son.

‘With the announcement today that the investigation has become inactive, I am conscious that the case can never be closed for me. I will always live with the hope that someone might come forward with evidence which will allow us to achieve full justice for Stephen – by bringing about the prosecution of the others responsible for his murder.

‘I do not regret our fight for justice, although the burden has at times felt too heavy for a family to bear. In fact, I am immensely proud of everything that has been achieved along the way.

‘Without the campaign we wouldn’t have been where we are today. I particularly note the support I have received over the years from families who have suffered what I have, especially the family of Richard Adams, who provided me with support in my darkest hours. This experience has compelled me to try and provide this support to others struck by the tragedy of losing a child.’ 

Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence said: ‘I am truly disappointed that those others who were equally responsible for my son’s racist killing may not be brought to justice.

‘I am very sad that a line has now been drawn into the investigation and that it is now in an ‘inactive’ phase.

‘Despite this, I would still urge anyone who has any information that could help me get all of Stephen’s killers convicted, to come forward.

‘It is never too late to give a mother justice for the murder of her son.

‘Whilst the Metropolitan Police have given up, I never will.’

When the force announced two years ago that it was mothballing the investigation and it was unlikely to progress without new information, Doreen Lawrence said she wanted the probe closed.

However, Neville Lawrence said he hoped the family could get ‘total justice’ and that he would never give up.

Met Police said it had taken 240 witness statements since 2014 relating to Stephen’s murder.

Met Police commissioner, Cressida Dick, said: ‘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. I, and the senior investigator in charge of the case, Chris Le Pere, have met with Baroness Lawrence and Mr Lawrence and fully explained the work the team have been doing, and why we are now at this stage.

‘The investigation has now moved to an “inactive” phase, but I have given Stephen’s family the assurance that we will continue to deal with any new information that comes to light.

‘The investigation into Stephen’s murder will also be periodically reviewed for any further investigative opportunities which may arise, for example with advances in technology.’

She added: ‘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.’ 

She added that the force has told Duwayne Brooks, who was with Stephen on the night he was killed, about their decision.

Knight, shirtless and wearing pink shorts, declined to comment when approached by a reporter at his parents’ terraced house on an estate in Eltham today. 

He slammed the door when asked how he felt about the Stephen Lawrence case being moved to an ‘inactive phase’ and someone was then heard shouting ‘f*** off you c***’ from the house.

The original investigation into Stephen’s death was hampered by incompetence, racism and claims of police corruption surrounding Norris’s father Clifford and his links to the criminal underworld.

In April 1994 the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution, and in September that year Mr Lawrence’s parents unsuccessfully attempted their own private prosecution against Dobson, Knight and Neil Acourt.

Five years later the Macpherson report, produced after a public inquiry into the case, found the Metropolitan Police guilty of institutional racism and made a series of recommendations on changes to policing and wider public policy.

Today there are still ongoing inquiries linked to the case, including an investigation by the National Crime Agency and the Independent Office for Police Conduct into alleged corruption.

The case will also inform part of the public inquiry into undercover policing that is due to start next year, after it was revealed in 2013 that a police mole infiltrated a campaign group supporting the Lawrence family’s fight for justice.

Speaking today, Stuart Lawrence said: ‘If these people that were in office that are supposed to be protecting people, didn’t do their jobs properly, have now retired and are drawing down a police pension are still harbouring these lies and mistruths where’s the justice in that? 

‘Why is that allowed, why are we funding these people and allowing them not to tell the truth?’

Over 27 agonising years: How the story unfolded 

April 22, 1993: Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death as he waits at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.

May-June, 1993: Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris are arrested in connection with his murder.

July 1993: Crown Prosecution Service formally discontinues the prosecution.

December 1993: Southwark coroner Sir Montague Levine halts an inquest into Mr Lawrence’s death after the family’s barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, says there is new evidence in the case.

April 1994: The CPS says the new evidence is insufficient to support murder charges.

September 1994: The Lawrence family begins a private prosecution against Neil Acourt, Mr Knight and Dobson.

December 1994: Secret video evidence is filmed showing Dobson and Norris making obscene racist remarks.

April 1996: The private prosecution against Neil Acourt, Mr Knight and Dobson begins at the Old Bailey but collapses after identification evidence is ruled inadmissible. The three are acquitted.

February 1997: An inquest jury finds that Stephen was ‘unlawfully killed by five white youths’. The Daily Mail runs a front page story with pictures of the suspects under the headline ‘Murderers’.

DECEMBER 1997: A Police Complaints Authority report on the original police investigation of Stephen’s murder identifies ‘significant weaknesses, omissions and lost opportunities’.

February 1999: The Macpherson Report finds the police guilty of mistakes and ‘institutional racism.’ It also suggested a rethink of the principle of ‘double jeopardy’ laws.

April 1999: The five arrested in 1993 deny involvement in a TV interview.

September 2002: Norris and Neil Acourt are jailed for 18 months for a racist attack on off-duty policeman Gareth Reid.

May 2004: The CPS announces there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to prosecute anyone for the murder.

April 2005: Double jeopardy is scrapped if there is new evidence.

May 2011: The Court of Appeal agrees that Dobson’s 1996 murder acquittal can be quashed.

From the Daily Mail, March 7, 2014

November 2011: The trial of Dobson and Norris for Stephen’s murder begins.

January 2012: Dobson and Norris are found guilty of murder at Old Bailey.

March 2013: A review by Mark Ellison QC finds that a Met ‘spy’ was working within the ‘Lawrence family camp’ during the course of the judicial inquiry into matters arising from his death.

March 2015: Then-home secretary Theresa May launches an inquiry into undercover policing following the report of the Ellison Inquiry.

October 2015: The National Crime Agency announces that the Met are being investigated for alleged corruption over their initial handling of the case.

April 2018: Scotland Yard admits it has no new lines of inquiry in the investigation into Stephen’s murder.

April 2019: Then-prime minister Theresa May marks the first Stephen Lawrence Day.

YESTERDAY: The Met announces that there are no further lines of inquiry in the murder probe. 

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