Thursday 22 February 2018

Judge piles pressure on police over failures in original Lawrence trial

Paul Peachey

An Old Bailey judge piled pressure on the police to atone for their first bungled inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence by demanding they bring more of his killers to justice.

Sentencing two of the murderers yesterday, Mr Justice Treacy urged police not to shut down the murder inquiry. He also urged those "who have been silent so far"to come forward after 18 years.

"The convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris will not, I hope, close the file on this murder," the judge said. "On the evidence before the court, there are still three or four killers of Stephen Lawrence at large."

Members of the Lawrence family will meet senior officers in the coming weeks to discuss whether the 23-strong investigation team remains together or is to be run down after two members of the violent racist gang were jailed.

Dobson (36), who is currently serving a jail term for drug dealing, was sent to prison for a minimum of 15 years and two months. Norris (35) was jailed for a minimum of 14 years and three months.

Prospects of further convictions are considered highly unlikely. Doreen Lawrence, mother of murdered Stephen, even spoke yesterday of moving on and "taking control" of her life once again.

Two of the men named as main suspects in the years after the murder -- Neil Acourt and Luke Knight -- were both acquitted in 1996. Any new prosecution against them would rely on "new and compelling" evidence being brought to light before Appeal Court judges could consider allowing them to stand trial again.

Acquittals have only been overturned seven times since the 800-year-old rule of "double jeopardy" for certain crimes was scrapped in 2005, including once for Dobson after the discovery of forensic evidence that linked him to the killing.

The evidence against the two men jailed yesterday took years to amass and sources close to the case suggest that the chance of anyone else being convicted was "non-existent".

A confession by anyone linked to the gang is also considered unlikely as disaffected members have never come forward during the £30m (€36m) investigation.

Gary Dobson, considered the weak link in the gang that operated around Eltham, south-east London in the early-1990s, has been secretly approached on several occasions to try to persuade him to speak out against other members of the gang. He always refused. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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