The Lawrence Five were pelted with eggs when they appeared at the McPherson Inquiry in 1998.
Photo: Paul Hackett
Eighteen years after David Norris, Gary Dobson, Neil and Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight murdered Stephen Lawrence in a street in Eltham, justice has finally been partly served with 'life' sentences for Norris and Dobson.
The Acourt brothers and Knight are still walking about free men.
The case has over the years precipitated much analysis of the institutional racism endemic in the Metropolitan Police. A judicial inquiry in 1997 concluded that although there were "significant weaknesses, omissions and lost opportunities" in the original police investigation there was no evidence to support any racist conduct by the police. This precipitated the McPherson Inquiry which in 1999 reported the police investigation was "marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers." (see The Guardian's timeline)
The McPherson report also detailed the evidence against the five suspects that had led the police to the gang in the early stages of the investigation, including secret surveillance (see The Telegraph). However, none of that evidence has been used in this case which has rested on highly contested forensic evidence. Dobson and Norris could only be brought to trial since the scrapping of the double jeopardy legal principle in 2005.
Update: 4 Jan 2012
Darryl over at 853blog has written a thoughtful piece about growing up in Eltham – he was in the year above Stephen at school – and pays tribute to Doreen and Neville Lawrence.