Socialist Worker

Dobson and Norris sentenced for Lawrence murder

by Anindya Bhattacharyya at the Old Bailey
Issue No. 2284

Doreen Lawrence speaks outside the court after the sentencing (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Doreen Lawrence speaks outside the court after the sentencing (Pic: Socialist Worker)

Gary Dobson and David Norris were sentenced today for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in April 1993.

Both men were “detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure”—an effective life sentence—with the judge, Mr Justice Treacy, specifying a minimum term of 15 years 2 months for Dobson and 14 years 3 months for Norris.

The pair were sentenced according to guidelines in place for juveniles in 1993. Both were under 18 at the time they murdered Stephen. Adults committing a similar crime today could expect a minimum term of 30 years, the judge said.

Mr Justice Treacy made clear that Dobson and Norris were part of a gang all of whom were equally culpable in the death of Stephen Lawrence. The murder was “committed for no other reason than racial hatred”, he said, and was “a racist crime driven by hatred”.

The judge noted that Stephen had been killed in “a chance encounter” and that neither he nor his friend Duwayne Brooks had done anything to provoke the attack. Nevertheless Mr Justice Treacy said the crime was “premeditated” in the sense that the gang was “prepared, if the opportunity arose, to attack in the way that you did”.

As is customary, the judge commended the police officers, forensic scientists and lawyers that had successfully brought the prosecution against Dobson and Norris. But he noted that the case had “shamed and humbled” the Metropolitan Police, and that the findings of the 1999 Macpherson Report were “still valid”.

The judge also noted that three or four of Stephen’s killers were still at large and urged the police to do everything possible to bring them to justice too.

Outside the court Stephen’s father Neville and mother Doreen made brief statements. Neville described the day as “only one step in a long, long journey”. Doreen said the jail terms were quite low but noted that “the judges’ hands were tied”.

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