Two men have been convicted of the killing of black teenager Stephen Lawrence, the landmark case which exposed institutional racism in London’s police force.
The 18-year-old was stabbed to death by a gang of white youths at a bus stop in south east London in an unprovoked attack in 1993.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty after a second trial that hinged on new scientific evidence. Prosecutors said textile fibres, blood and hair belonging to Lawrence had been found on clothing seized from the defendants.
After an 18-year search for justice during which police botched the initial investigation, Lawrence’s mother Doreen said she felt a mixture anger and relief.
“How can I celebrate when I know this day could have come 18 years ago, when the police who were meant to find my son’s killers failed so miserable (sic) to do so. Had the police done their job properly, I would have spent the last 18 years grieving for my son rather than fighting to get his killers caught,” she added. “The fact is that racism and racist attacks are still happening in this country.”
Since a judicial inquiry found deep-rooted failings, the Metropolitan Police has reformed its policies, but the Lawrence case still weighs heavily on the force.
The Lawrence case also helped end the judicial doctrine of double jeopardy, which had previously prevented suspects from being tried twice for the same crime.
One of the defendants, Dobson, had been acquitted of the murder in 1996 when a private prosecution brought by the teenager’s parents collapsed.
The two men will be sentenced on Wednesday. They face a mandatory life term, with a minimum number of years to be set by the judge before they can be considered for release.
The families of Dobson and Morris say they will prove their innocence.