THE MOTHER of the murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence criticised police for not catching her son's killers earlier as David Norris and Gary Dobson were convicted today 18 years since he was stabbed to death.
In an emotional address outside the Old Bailey, Doreen Lawrence said she should not have had to spend 18 years trying to get her son's killers to court.
"How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police had not failed so miserably to find sons killers," she said.
Mrs Lawrence added: "Despite these verdicts today is not a cause for celebration. How can I celebrate when my son lies buried?
"When I cannot see him or speak to him. When will I see him grow up and go to university or get married or have children? These verdicts will not bring my son back.
"These are not reasons to celebrate. All I now feel is relief . Relief that two of my sons killers have finally been caught and brought to justice
"Relief that these racist men no longer think they can murder a black man and get away with it. Relief that despite the defence being able to raise issues of contamination the jury saw through it. For some extent I can move forward with my life
"Mixed with relief is anger that me an my family were put through 18 years of grief and uncertainty. Had the police done their job properly I would have spent the last 18 years grieving for my son rather than trying to get my son's killers to court.
"This result shows the police can do their jobs properly but only if they want to. I only hope they have learned their lesson.
"The fact is that racism and racist attacks are still happening in this country and the police should not use my son's name to say we can move on."
Dobson and Norris were part of a gang of white youths who racially taunted Stephen before stabbing him to death in a 10 – second attack in Eltham, south-east London in 1993.
They were two of the original five suspects arrested by the Metropolitan Police at the time of the murder. Two brothers, Neil and Jamie Acourt, and their friend Luke Knight were the others.
But, back then, there was not enough evidence to charge them.
The Lawrence family pursued a private prosecution against the five. The case against three of the suspects – including Dobson – went to court, but later collapsed.
Stephen's father Neville speaking via a solicitor after the verdicts said: "Neville Lawrence via solicitor - my life was torn apart by the senseless murder of my son 18 years ago.
Unfortunately no one was brought before the court at that time as they should have been. I am therefore full of joy and relief that two of my sons kilelrs have been convicted for his murder. They will be sent to prison and forced to face the consequences of their actions.
"I am not sure where I will go from here . I will let this good news sink in for some time. I am conscious there were give or six attackers that night. I do not think I will be able to rest until they are all brought to justice."
The murder brought the issue of race relations in Britain into sharp focus.
Failure to have anyone convicted had haunted the Metropolitan Police who were fiercely criticised at a public inquiry for their handling of the case.
The Macpherson Report, in 1998, branded the force “institutionally racist”.