STEPHEN LAWRENCE CASE – TIMELINE
The murder of Stephen Lawrence in south-east London 18 years ago has been the subject of multiple court cases and inquiries. See the timeline below….
22 April 1993
Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waits at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, with his friend Duwayne Brooks.
26 April 1993
Four prime suspects are put under surveillance.
4 May 1993
The Lawrence family complains that police are not doing enough to catch Stephen’s killers.
7 May 1993
The homes of brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt and David Norris and Gary Dobson are searched. The Acourt brothers and Dobson are arrested, then released on bail. Norris surrenders to police three days later.
13 May 1993
Identification parades are done for Neil Acourt, Dobson and Norris. Neil Acourt is identified by Brooks as one of the gang responsible. Acourt is charged with the murder of Lawrence and the attempted murder of Stacey Benefield a month earlier. Norris is charged with the attempted murder of Benefield.
23 June 1993
Luke Knight is charged with Lawrence’s murder and remanded in custody.
29 July 1993
Committal proceedings are scheduled for Neil Acourt and Knight but the Crown Prosecution Service formally discontinues the prosecution after a meeting with the senior investigating officer.
A review is set up by Scotland Yard.
22 December 1993
The Southwark coroner, Sir Montague Levine, halts an inquest into Lawrence’s death after the family’s barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, says there is “dramatic” new evidence.
16 April 1994
The CPS says the new evidence is insufficient to support murder charges.
The Lawrence family begins a private prosecution against the prime suspects.
18 April 1996
The murder trial begins against Neil Acourt, Knight and Dobson at the Old Bailey.
25 April 1996
The case collapses after Mr Justice Curtis rules that identification evidence from Brooks is inadmissible. All three are acquitted.
13 February 1997
The inquest into Lawrence’s death ends with a verdict from the jury that he was “unlawfully killed by five white youths”.
Lawrence’s parents make a formal complaint against the Metropolitan police.
Kent police launch an inquiry on behalf of the Police Complaints Authority.
31 July 1997
A judicial inquiry into the case is announced by the home secretary, Jack Straw.
15 December 1997
The Police Complaints Authority report on the original police investigation into Lawrence’s murder identifies “significant weaknesses, omissions and lost opportunities”. The report finds no evidence to support the allegation of racist conduct by any Metropolitan police officer involved in the investigation.
16 March 1998
The public inquiry under Lord Macpherson begins.
17 June 1998
The Metropolitan police makes a formal apology to the Lawrence family.
24 February 1999
A report into the case and its wider implications by Macpherson concludes that the police investigation was “marred by a combination of professional incompetence, institutional racism and a failure of leadership by senior officers”. The charge of institutional racism in particular prompts a series of changes within the Metropolitan police.
March 1999 -2003
The deputy assistant commissioner John Grieve begins a third major investigation, Operation Athena Tower.
5 May 2004
The CPS announces there is insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for Lawrence’s murder.
The government scraps the double jeopardy legal principle, which prevented suspects being tried twice for the same crime.
A BBC documentary alleges police corruption in the Lawrence case. It is suggested that Clifford Norris, the gangland father of one of the prime suspects, might have paid the former detective sergeant John Davidson to be kept one step ahead of the investigation.
9 August 2006
The killers of Damilola Taylor are convicted after a forensic review of the evidence finds spots of blood. The acting deputy commissioner Cressida Dick decides to mount a full cold case forensic review of exhibits in the Lawrence case.
14 October 2007
The Independent Police Complaints Commission finds no evidence of police corruption and no evidence of dishonest links between Davidson and Clifford Norris.
8 November 2007
Police confirm they are investigating new scientific evidence in the case.
7 February 2008
Doreen Lawrence opens a £10m architecture centre in honour of her son. Two weeks later vandals smash its windows in a suspected racist attack.
22 April 2008
A memorial service marks the 15th anniversary of Lawrence’s death. Scientists tell police they have found a spot of blood on the collar of Dobson’s jacket.
7 September 2010
Dobson and Norris are arrested.
8 September 2010
Dobson and Norris are charged with the murder.
18 May 2011
The court of appeal quashes Dobson’s acquittal, paving the way for the trial to go ahead.
14 November 2011
Dobson and Norris face trial.
3 January 2011
Old Bailey jury finds Dobson and Norris guilty of murder of Stephen Lawrence.