Two men are to stand trial for the murder of Stephen Lawrence after the emergence of “compelling” new evidence in the case. David Norris and Gary Dobson are accused of killing the black teenager, who was waiting peacefully for the bus with a friend, in Eltham, south-east London in April 1993. In his judgement today The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Igor Judge described the killing of Mr Lawrence “by a group of white youths just because of the colour of his skin” as a “calamitous crime”.
Stephen Lawrence’s parents had previously undertaken a private prosecution. In April 1996, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and Neil Acourt were tried for the murder. Following the judge’s ruling that certain evidence was not admissible there was insufficient further evidence to justify continuing the prosecution and the jury was directed to acquit the defendants.
However Dobson’s aquittal was quashed today after the court declared that “after conducting a detailed examination of a large body of evidence” it had recognised “sufficient reliable and substantial new evidence to justify the quashing of the acquittal and to order a new trial”.
It is intended by the prosecucution for Dobson to stand trial alongside David Norris who was was arrested and charged with Lawrence’s murder in September 2010 . Court reporting restrictions have prevented this being revealed previously due to concern that both men are afforded a fair trial, particularly in view of the high level of publicity surrounding the murder.
The student union at Goldsmiths named their committee room in memory of Stephen Lawrence who was described by the judges today as “a young black man of great promise.”
A joint statement was released by the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan police explaining that they had:
worked tirelessly with forensic scientists to review the evidence in this case. A full forensic review was commenced in June 2006. New scientific evidence was found and on that basis the prosecution applied for a retrial. We welcome the Court of Appeal’s decision. In order to protect the investigation and ensure a fair trial reporting restrictions were put in place in September 2010,which have now been partially lifted. Our thoughts at this stage go to Stephen’s family, who have never given up their quest to see justice for Stephen.