Socialist Worker

Long-awaited trial begins over Stephen Lawrence murder

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2278

A murder trial into the killing of Stephen Lawrence started this week, eighteen years after his death.

David Norris and Gary Dobson are accused of murdering the 18-year old as he waited for a bus in Eltham, south London, in 1993.

Forensic evidence has been found since Stephen’s death.

Justice Treacy told the Old Bailey, “That evidence will take centre stage in this trial and the central issue the jury will have to consider is its reliability and significance.”

He also placed an “absolute prohibition” on jurors researching the case on the internet, as much of the information there was “irrelevant” as well as being “mistaken, unreliable, unproven and mischievous”.

The judge said most of the case will concentrate on the years since Stephen’s killing.

It will look at “the handling of certain exhibits which came into the possession of the police after his death”.

Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville Lawrence sat with Stephen’s brother Stuart just feet away from Dobson and Norris. The Lawrences have fought for justice for almost two decades.

The judge said the case “aroused strong feelings” following a number of heavily criticised police investigations.

He said there had been a court case in 1996, an inquest in 1997 and a public inquiry chaired by a judge into the investigations in 1998.

Police

“Accusations have been made about the competence of the police investigations into the case,” he said. “What is essential for there to be a fair trial is those selected for this jury approach their task in the right way.”

A jury panel of 49 was whittled down to 24 on Monday after the removal of those who live in five boroughs in south London or with a specialist knowledge of the case.

Those with a close friend or relative in the Metropolitan Police, Crown Prosecution Service and Forensic Science Service since 1993 were also released.

Justice Treacy went on, “A trial of this nature is extremely expensive to run. We can’t afford, literally, to have any disruption to the trial.”

Dobson and Norris, both of south London, deny murdering Stephen. They were arrested last September but that could not be reported at the time due to legal restrictions.

Judges at the Appeal Court who lifted the ban on publicity in May described the murder as a “calamitous crime”.

The prosecution was set to present its case as Socialist Worker went to press.

The trial continues.


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Features
Tue 15 Nov 2011, 19:02 GMT
Issue No. 2278
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