Stephen Lawrence's Killers Sentenced

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 82 months ago
Stephen Lawrence's Killers Sentenced

Gary Dobson and David Norris were both given life sentences yesterday for the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Dobson will serve a minimum of 15 years and two months and Norris a minimum of 14 years and three months; this might not sound long, but the judge was bound to take into consideration the fact that both men were juveniles at the time of the attack, as well as sentencing guidelines in place in 1993. It's just another factor to add to the tragedy of how long the case has dragged on.

The Met have denied they're disbanding the investigation team – while acknowledging reducing the number of murder squads because of budget cuts and a fall in murder rates in the capital – and say they've had new information on the case while the trial was happening. It's always been known Stephen Lawrence was attacked by a group and, during sentencing, the judge explicitly made reference to "three or four other killers" still to be charged. Since the latest forensic techniques that identified Norris and Dobson found nothing on anyone else, the police are likely to rely on new information to bring the rest of the gang to justice.

The Mayor issued a statement calling the case "a long running sore for us as a city and an embarrassment to our police force" and full of praise for the Lawrence family

I, like everyone across the country, have always been in awe of the Lawrence family's dignified pursuit of justice, they are a fine example to us all. Today's sentencing is a reflection of their tireless determination and also sends a bold message to anyone else involved in this crime.

This is a welcome phrase from a man who once described the police as "the victims of the Macpherson report" (but on the subject of other accusations, circling online today, of what the Mayor may or may not have said about McPherson, we'd do well to refer you to the original Guardian article for some context). While we're on the subject of politicians, Diane Abbott has apologised after saying some stupid things ("white people love playing 'divide & rule'") on Twitter.

The BBC has also made a film about stop and search, and the Guardian has taken the opportunity to look at ethnic minorities in the police force. They've found that, like for like since 1999, recruitment of constables from black and Asian communities has increased just 2% to 4% of the whole. (On claiming they'd met their 7% target, the Met was including community police support officers.) As the number of women now in senior positions demonstrates the police are capable of change, it's worth asking whether the force has done all it could in the wake of McPherson?

Photo of the Stephen Lawrence memorial plaque in Eltham by Darryl_SE7, under a Creative Commons licence

Last Updated 05 January 2012