With the conviction of two white men, curtain on Tuesday came down on one of Britain's most notorious racial killings which had led to the British police being branded “institutionally racist'' for its handling of the case.
Parents of Afro-Caribbean teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack at a south London bus stop 18 years ago, wept in court as a jury found Gary Dobson (36) and David Norris (35) guilty of killing their son. Stephen's best friend Duwayne Brooks, who was with him on the night of the murder, tweeted: “Some justice at last''.
Michael Mansfield QC, who represented Lawrence's parents, Doreen and Neville, at his inquest, described the verdict as “another milestone for the family in a very long journey''.
Acting Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick, who led a review of the first botched investigation that was heavily criticised by an official inquiry commission, said: “It's a matter of huge regret to the Met that it has taken 18 years to get to this point. It has been a unique case in policing. Firstly, the horrible, horrible nature of the attack on the night. The time in which it has taken to bring anybody to justice and the tireless campaigning of the Lawrences.”
Dobson and Norris, both from south London, protested their innocence with Dobson shouting: “You have condemned an innocent man here, I hope you can live with yourselves.”
He was tried once before for Stephen's murder but acquitted. But his acquittal was quashed in April last year after new forensic evidence linking him and Norris to the killing emerged. Prosecutors said blood, hair and fibres linked to Lawrence and found on the defendants' clothing proved their involvement in the murder.
Lawrence was 18 when he was knifed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south London, in April 1993 after being chased by his killers. The first investigation failed to lead to any conviction because of a catalogue of errors that led an inquiry to label Scotland Yard “institutionally racist''.
A new trial was ordered after a review of the case in 2006. Before the trial, Justice Treacy instructed the jurors to ignore the history of the case and said anything they knew, had heard or read about it was “irrelevant”.
The men will be sentenced on Wednesday.