Socialist Worker

Stephen Lawrence's best friend Duwayne Brooks recounts attack

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2278

Stephen Lawrence’s best friend broke down in court today, Thursday, as he relived the final moments of the black teenager’s life.

Duwayne Brooks was giving evidence at the Old Bailey trial of Gary Dobson and David Norris. The pair are accused of murdering Stephen in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.

Other sobs could be heard in the courtroom as Duwayne described the confused and fatally wounded Stephen asking him what was wrong.

Duwayne gave evidence despite the fact that his father died on Wednesday night. Duwayne refused the opportunity to halt his testimony, telling the court, “I want to say what happened.”

He described how a gang of white attackers set upon himself and Stephen. The attack came after the gang had hurled racist abuse at them.

Duwayne said, “These guys have come across the road and one of them said, ‘What what nigger’.”

The court heard Stephen was stabbed and hit with a metal bar.

Duwayne told the jury: “When I looked back I saw, at that moment in time, I don’t know if you could call him the leader, but the guy who had the weapon, ran straight into him and, wham, just like that.”

He raised his right arm to show the jury a striking motion.

“It was something shiny. At the time I was looking it was about this long (motioned his hands about a foot apart).”

Duwayne also said one of the gang who had a metal bar chased him. “When I was being chased he had like a metal bar in his hand, and when I ran back he hit Stephen with the bar. He was getting up and he hit him which made him go back down.”

He told how he was “relieved” at first when he saw Stephen get up.

After his best friend collapsed in the street, Duwayne tried to get help using a phone box but the geographical information inside was wrong.

He then tried to get passers-by to help save Stephen’s life.

Duwayne cried as he looked at a picture of the scene and described his best friend’s dying word to him.

He told a hushed courtroom, “He said one more time ‘Duwayne’ and his voice was funny and he fell at that tree.”

They had known each other since they were 11 years old.

Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville sat silently at the back of the court listening to the evidence.

Asked to describe the group, Duwayne said, “At the time all I could say was they were all white, they were about the same age and they were all wearing jeans.”

He said the person who shouted the racist remark at him had worn a grey bomber jacket with white strips on either side.

Under cross-examination, Duwayne was reminded of a previous statement in which he said he had seen the white men earlier that evening.

He said, “I said it in 1995 while I was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Off duty police officer James Geddis was driving with his wife Angela to their home in Eltham when he saw a body lying in the road.

He covered Stephen with a tartan blanket from his car and dialled 999 from a phone box. In a statement he described Duwayne as “understandably stressed” but “hysterical and bouncing around all over the place.”

Geddis has since left the Metropolitan Police.

Geddis and PC Linda Bethel, who was in the first police car to arrive, traced the blood trail back down Well Hall Road. There they found a black bag near a pool of blood and preserved the crime scene until more police arrived.

Bethel said Duwayne told her at the time that “he didn’t witness the assault”.

Under cross-examination, she said that Duwayne at the time could not tell her what the white youths looked like.

Dobson and Norris deny murder.

The trial continues.


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Features
Thu 17 Nov 2011, 19:27 GMT
Issue No. 2278
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