Thursday 22 February 2018

Stabbed Stephen Lawrence ‘ran for his life’ after 10 second fatal attack

Margaret Davis

STEPHEN Lawrence "ran for his life" after a fatal attack lasting just ten seconds, a court heard today.

Eyewitness Royston Westbrook told a jury at the Old Bailey that he initially thought the black teenager had only been punched.

He said: "It was so quick, it really was quick - it was about 10 seconds - and my impression going away from that was that they managed to punch him and that was it."

He said Mr Lawrence got back to his feet almost as soon as he was forced to the ground.

Mr Westbrook added: "He basically crossed over the road and ran for his life up the hill."

He said the four or five white youths who had staged the attack then just walked away.

"They stood there for a few seconds and then walked off."

Mr Lawrence was killed by a gang in Eltham, south east London in April 1993.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both of south London, deny his murder.

Hospital worker Mr Westbrook said he saw a group of white men "collide" with Mr Lawrence and his friend Duwayne Brooks.

Mr Westbrook told the court: "The two black boys, Stephen and Duwayne, were standing right by the bus stop. They were kicking about, they were talking about football...they were just generally chit-chatting."

The teenagers were discussing whether or not they should wait for a bus or walk back up to a roundabout to try to get another.

In the end they made the fateful decision to walk away, and were set upon by the gang.

Mr Westbrook told the court: "They just collided - that's what it looked like. They were just heading towards each other and that was it."

Re-living the attack, which happened more than 18 years ago, he went on: "They grabbed Duwayne Brooks' wrist but he turned his wrist and just pulled away. Duwayne ran towards the bus stop where we were standing and turned round and shouted something like 'Leg it, Steve' or 'Run, Stephen'."

Mr Brooks managed to run away but Mr Lawrence was forced to the ground.

Mr Westbrook told the jury: "I saw them surround Stephen and he went down basically through sheer weight of numbers in the middle of them... it looked at the time that someone went to punch him."

One of the attackers then lifted his leg to try to kick Mr Lawrence.

The court was told: "He lifted his leg backwards to give him a good kick. As he did that, Stephen came up between his legs, struggled up and ran up the road in the same direction as Duwayne Brooks had gone.

"I think that whoever was doing the kicking was aiming to give a good kick so he lifted his leg right up but Stephen saw the opportunity to get out."

The eyewitness, who was on his way home from working at Grove Park Hospital that night, did not see any weapon.

He initially thought that Mr Lawrence had only been punched, but moments later while on a bus saw him lying on the ground.

He said: "I could just see him lying on the floor and some sort of commotion."

Mr Westbrook added: "From my viewpoint, it was a completely unprovoked attack. They did nothing to justify it."

A youth who got on the bus with him said: "It looks like they got him because he was black, doesn't it?"

Frenchwoman Alexandra Marie, who was was working in England as an au pair for six months at the time of the murder, told the jury that Mr Lawrence did not fight back when he was attacked.

She was waiting at a bus stop with Mr Westbrook when Mr Lawrence was killed.

She said: "There were some white men who were like kicking him and holding him at the same time, but the young man didn't reply. He tried to protect himself."

There were "several" attackers - more than three - but she could not say precisely how many.

Ms Marie also told the court there was not much shouting during the attack.

"I didn't have the impression it was very violent aggression because there was not a lot of shouting. But I didn't feel at ease."

Irish Independent

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