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New information in Lawrence case being investigated

BRITISH police are assessing new information they have received in the wake of the conviction and sentencing of two of Stephen Lawrence's killers.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were given life sentences at the Old Bailey yesterday for the racist murder of Mr Lawrence nearly 19 years ago.

Mr Justice Treacy urged police not to "close the file" on catching the rest of his killers as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said that the remaining culprits "should not rest easily in their beds".

The court has heard that a gang of five or six white youths set upon the A-level student in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

Dobson, who is already serving a five-year sentence for drug-dealing, was sentenced to at least 15 years and two months.

Norris was given a minimum of 14 years and three months for the murder, which the judge said was a "terrible and evil crime".

A spokesman for the Met said later police were looking into information they had received in the previous 24 hours.

He said: "We can confirm that we have received a number of telephone calls in light of the verdicts and today's sentencing. This information will be evaluated."

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, who has been the senior officer in the case for a number of years, told BBC News that officers would be visiting Dobson and Norris in prison to see whether they would be willing to assist the inquiry and said he remained "optimistic" about further progress being made in the case.

He also told the Press Association that there had been five calls from members of the public during the trial.

Mr Driscoll said: "We have had people who have phoned in during the trial and offered their assistance and we are looking at that to the best of our abilities.

"People will always phone in when you get this type of case."

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Lawrence's mother Doreen said of the sentences: "They took my son's life, so I feel they should be given life with a minimum of 20 years.

"Their age had nothing to do with it. They had the same mindset at 16 and 17 that they probably still have now.

"I would have liked longer sentences but the law is the law."

Referring to the rest of the killers, she told the newspaper: "I'm hoping that, eventually, Dobson and Norris will give up the others; that they won't take the whole guilty vote for themselves.

"I want to get the others, but I also want a life."

Mr Lawrence's father Neville told reporters outside court that he hoped the pair would "give up the rest of the people" involved.

Mrs Lawrence said the sentences were "quite low", but appreciated the judge's hands were tied and she would now "start moving on".

In court, Mr Justice Treacy called forward Mr Driscoll, and said that the public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Mr Lawrence's death had "shamed and humbled" the Met, but praised the hard work done in recent years.

The judge went on: "At least a measure of justice has been achieved at last. However, the convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris will not, I hope, close the file on this murder. On the evidence before the court, there are still three or four other killers of Stephen Lawrence at large.

"Just as advances in science have brought two people to justice, I hope the Metropolitan Police will be alert to future lines of inquiry, not only based on developments in science but perhaps also information from those who have been silent so far, wherever they may be."

Earlier, he had sentenced Dobson and Norris in a packed but silent courtroom.

He called the killing "a terrible and evil crime", and quoted the Lord Chief Justice who called it a "murder which scarred the conscience of the nation".

Mr Justice Treacy told the pair: "A totally innocent 18-year-old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street in front of eyewitnesses by a racist, thuggish gang.

"You were both members of that gang. I have no doubt at all that you fully subscribed to its views and attitudes."

He said the murder was committed "for no other reason than racial hatred".

The evidence in the trial could not prove who wielded the knife, but he said that whoever used it had done so with Dobson and Norris' "knowledge and approval".

Neither of them had shown "the slightest regret or remorse" since the murder and they had both lied to the court.

When it was over, Dobson left speedily, stepping over Norris who had bent down to pick up his papers.

Norris then kissed his hand and offered it up to the public gallery in a thumbs-up sign before he too was led from the court.

As the judge rose to leave, a few people began clapping in the public gallery.

Dobson's father, Stephen, called down to the court: "Shame on all of you."

It is understood that a decision will be made on whether to keep the men at Belmarsh prison, south-east London, where Norris has previously been beaten up.