Socialist Worker

Forensic questions at Stephen Lawrence murder trial

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2279

Gary Dobson and David Norris are accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence on 22 April 1993.

Two of Dobson’s best friends, Neil and Jamie Acourt, were among five initial police suspects in the investigation into Stephen’s murder.

Previously the court had heard that the Acourts’ home was under surveillance. It also heard that Dobson and Norris were photographed leaving the Accourt’s house four days after Stephen, 18, was stabbed to death.

In his initial police interview, Dobson named the Acourts as his “main male friends”.

Today, Wednesday the court heard that the Acourts were suspects in the murder investigation and that their home was raided by police on 7 May 1993, the same day officers searched the homes of Dobson and Norris.

Detective Constable Robert Crane was the exhibits officer during the raid on the house, at 102 Bournbrook Road, Eltham, south east London.

And during an exchange with Stephen Batten QC, defending Norris, the officer revealed that the Acourts were suspects in the investigation.

The officer also revealed that the home of a fifth suspect was searched and items seized, but did not disclose the person’s name.

Previously the court has heard that clothes seized from the homes of Dobson and Norris were stored in a disused police cell which had previously held the clothes Stephen was wearing on the night he was murdered.

The case rests on fragments of forensic evidence belonging to Stephen found on the clothing of Dobson and Norris.

The prosecution say this proves Dobson and Norris were at the scene of the murder.

The defence say the fragments are a result of cross contamination.

The court also heard from Yvonne Turner, a forensic scientist who conducted tests on the seized items of clothing in 1993.

She explained that she made an error during her initial examination, confusing the case with a robbery she was working on.

Turner wrote the wrong case number on a form relating to examinations she had conducted on Dobson’s jacket.

She later corrected this.

The trial heard how police seized the items from the defendants’ family homes following Stephen’s death.

Linda Holden, a detective constable at the time, told how she was one of the officers who raided Dobson’s home in Eltham two weeks after Stephen’s death.

And she said that one of the garments taken from a bedroom wardrobe was a dark grey bomber jacket with yellow trim and bold lettering reading Splendid Stuff America on the back.

Holden was one of only two officers who went to speak with Stephen’s parents Neville and Doreen Lawrence and also took part in the raids on suspects. She went to the Lawrences’ home in nearby Woolwich five times including a final visit on 29 April 1993.

Holden said she was responsible for evidence exhibits taken from Dobson’s home.

She said, “It was well over a week later and I didn’t think that I had any risk of contamination, and certain senior officers knew that I had been to the Lawrence family home.”

Later in cross-examination Roberts QC for the defence asked, “Are you absolutely sure and can you swear on oath that you didn’t wear the same shirt?”

She replied, “Positive.”

Dobson and Norris deny murder.

The trial continues.

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