Thursday 19 April 2018

Stephen Lawrence father tells how his son’s murder killed his marriage

Neville Lawrence: said the murder of 18-year-old Stephen in 1993 spelled the end of his marriage to Doreen. Photo: Getty Images
Neville Lawrence: said the murder of 18-year-old Stephen in 1993 spelled the end of his marriage to Doreen. Photo: Getty Images
Doreen Lawrence. Photo: Getty Images

Diana Pilkington and Tom Morgan

THE father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has described how his family was torn apart by his son's death.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Neville Lawrence said the murder of 18-year-old Stephen in 1993 spelled the end of his marriage to Doreen, which had until then been a "normal, loving relationship".

He told the newspaper: "Our world began falling apart from the moment the hospital staff told us our son had died.

"For some reason that I've tried to understand - and I still don't - we couldn't reach out to one another.

"We stayed together for another six years, but from that day we never physically touched one another again."

Despite their long campaign for justice for their son, which involved much group discussion, Mr Lawrence said he and his wife would discuss "absolutely nothing" as a couple.

He told the newspaper: "You know, in 18 years, me and Doreen have still never once talked about what happened to Stephen that night. About how and why he died and how it affected us."

Gary Dobson, 36, who is already serving a five-year sentence for drug-dealing, was sentenced to at least 15 years and two months at the Old Bailey on Wednesday for the murder.

David Norris, 35, was given a minimum of 14 years and three months for the murder, which the judge said was a "terrible and evil crime".

Britain's top law officer is reviewing claims that jail terms for the two men are "unduly lenient".

Several formal requests to the Attorney General have been made since an Old Bailey trial judge suggested he would increase their minimum sentences if the law allowed.

The development came as police assessed fresh information in efforts to hunt down other suspects in the 1993 racist murder.

Scotland Yard has denied claims that investigations were being scaled down after Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe said other suspects will not be allowed to "rest easily in their beds".

A spokesman for the Attorney General said he had been contacted by several individuals requesting a review after a member of the public made a first formal application within hours of the killers being jailed.

The Attorney General has no choice but to review the sentence as part of his public interest function.

"Anybody can request that we look at the case," the spokesman said. "We will consider it in the normal way."

Mr Justice Treacy urged police not to "close the file" on catching the rest of the killers after the court heard that a gang of five or six white youths set upon A-level student Stephen in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

Police are following up new information they have received since Tuesday's guilty verdicts.

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, who has been the senior officer in the case for a number of years, has said 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.

Mr Justice Treacy said the murder was committed "for no other reason than racial hatred".

Referring to the length of sentence, he said: "In short, the law dictates that I must sentence you by reference to your age and maturity at the time of the crime. I cannot sentence you as the mature men you now are.

"In addition, I must sentence you in accordance with the practice in force before the coming into force of Schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which now governs sentencing for more modern murders...

"It may be, therefore, that the resultant sentences are lower than some might expect, but the law as laid down by Parliament must be applied and I am constrained by it."

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.

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