Two white men have been jailed in Britain for the racist killing of a black teenager nearly 19 years ago, in a landmark case that exposed institutional racism in London’s police force over its failure to investigate properly.
Gary Dobson will serve a minimum of 15 years and two months, while David Norris was sentenced to at least 14 years and three months.
The victim, Stephen Lawrence, was 18 when he was stabbed to death at a bus stop in an unprovoked attack in southeast London in 1993.
Previous prosecution cases collapsed but to the relief of the Lawrence family, new scientific evidence finally trapped the two men.
They were sentenced as juveniles as both were under 18 at the time of the murder.
“The sentences… may be quite low, but at the same time the judge’s hands were tied, and for that, as much as he can do, I was very grateful”, said Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother.
The suffering and dignity of Stephen Lawrence’s parents during their long wait for justice touched many in Britain.
The court rejected doubts over the evidence from the accused and their families.
The police now say they are looking for other gang members present during the attack.
“The other people in the murder of Stephen Lawrence should not rest easily in their beds. We are still investigating this case,” said Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe.
An inquiry into the Lawrence case brought an overhaul of police practices and new laws tackling discrimination.
There is a perception that race relations have improved in Britain, although problems remain.