London: A British court on Wednesday jailed two white men for a minimum of 14 and 15 years for the "evil" murder of a black teenager in 1993, in one of the worst racist crimes that "scarred the conscience of the nation".
While Gary Dobson, 36, will serve a minimum of 15 years
and two months in jail, David Norris, 35, will be in prison
for 14 years and three months for the murder of Stephen
Yesterday the two men were found guilty by an Old Bailey
jury of killing 18-year-old Lawrence, who was stabbed to death
by a gang of white youths.
Their sentencing comes amidst anger and grief over the
unprovoked killing of Indian student Anuj Bidve in Salford on
December 26 in an apparent hate crime in the UK.
The men were only sentenced at the Old Bailey as
juveniles as they were under 18 at the time of the attack.
At a packed court, the judge, Justice Treacy, described
the crime as "terrible and evil" and a "murder which scarred
the conscience of the nation".
Norris and Dobson were the first people convicted over the
fatal attack on Lawrence by a group of white youths near a bus
stop in Eltham in April 1993.
The judge also said he hoped Norris and Dobsons`
convictions would "not close the matter" and that police would
be alert to further lines of inquiry.
Passing sentence, Justice Treacy said the murder was
committed for no other reason than racial hatred.
He said Lawrence was completely blameless and helpless
and the "gravity of this case is high".
Speaking outside court, Stephen Lawrence`s mother Doreen
said the minimum terms were quite low but she recognised "the
judges` hands were tied" and thanked him for his sentencing
remarks which recognised the stress the family had suffered.
"It`s the beginning of starting a new life. We have been
in limbo for so long," she said.
Stephen Lawrence`s father Neville said: "This is only one
step in a long, long journey."
He thanked the police, the judge and the jury and called
on the pair to "give up" the other people involved in his
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe
said: "The other people involved in the murder of Stephen
Lawrence should not rest easily in their beds."
Earlier, the judge noted that the sentences were lower
than some would expect as he was "constrained by Parliament".
Guidelines issued in 2003 suggest a 30-year minimum
starting point for racially-aggravated murders but because the
offence was committed in 1993 and the defendants were
juveniles at the time the judge could not apply these.
The judge said it was "a brief but coordinated attack, a
racist taunt, a charge and a swallowing up of Stephen
The Lawrence case had previously "shamed" police, he said,
but they could now be commended for their work, as could the
forensic scientists involved.
Police arrested Dobson and Norris and three other suspects
in the months after Lawrence`s murder in April 1993 but the
Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dropped the case, saying the
evidence of a key witness was unreliable.
The CPS later said fresh evidence presented by the
Lawrence family`s barrister was not sufficient for a new
prosecution and the family launched a private prosecution
against Gary Dobson and two others, which failed.
An inquest later delivered a verdict of unlawful killing
"in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five youths" and
in 1999 a public inquiry into the case led to the Metropolitan
Police being branded institutionally racist.