by New Worker correspondent
THE MURDER of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in Eltham, south-east London, over 18 years ago, was just one of a series of racist murders in the area but made history because of police failures to pursue the case properly and because of his family’s determination to hold the police to account and to seek justice for Stephen.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, and his friend Duwayne Brooks, were attacked in 1993 by five youths shouting racist abuse in 1993 as they waited for a bus.
Brooks succeeded in fleeing them but Stephen Lawrence was overtaken and fatally stabbed.
Police mishandling of the case compromised the evidence – by allowing the chief witness, Duwayne Brooks, sight of the suspects at the police station and so leaving his identification evidence open to being challenged in court.
They also reacted slowly to collecting forensic evidence, leaving the suspects time to dispose of the weapon and contaminated clothing.
The Crown Prosecution Service refused to bring a case and a private prosecution brought by the family failed because Brooks' evidence was ruled inadmissible.
But now a new case is being brought by the Crown Prosecution Service based on forensic evidence on the clothing to two of the suspects using micro analysis techniques that were unavailable 18 years ago.
Opening the trial against Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, the prosecutor Mark Ellison QC on Tuesday picked out racism as the main motive for the murder.
"The only discernible reason for the attack was the colour of his skin," Ellison told the jury. The way in which the attack was executed indicates that this group were a group of like-minded young, white men who acted together and reacted together. They shared the same racial animosity and motivation."
The jury was told that the key to the case against Dobson and Norris was new scientific evidence which had not been available at the time of Lawrence's death. No one had ever been able to identify the youths involved in the attack – that remained true today, Ellison said.
The new tests, carried out by a different firm of forensic scientists who specialise in reviewing old cases, had retrieved textile fibres, blood and hair linked to Lawrence on the clothing seized from the defendants when they were first arrested in connection with the murder in May 1993, the court heard.