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Saturday, February 13, 1999 Published at 12:40 GMT

World: Europe

Police appeal for witness in Stephen Lawrence murder inquiry

Police in Britain are stepping up appeals for a woman who they believe could be a vital witness in the inquiry into the murder of the black teenager, Stephen Lawrence.

The two officers who investigated the handling of the initial inquiry revealed that the woman had telephoned detectives three times within the first few days after the killing.

Deputy Chief Constable Bob Ayling and Detective Chief Superintendent David Clapperton, from the Kent force, were speaking publicly for the first time about what they believe might have been the motive for the murder.

Mr Clapperton said it was possible that Stephen was stabbed by someone who wanted to join a gang led by two prime suspects in the case. he two officers also criticised the original investigation by the London force, saying it was cobbled together -- and that crucial evidence had been ignored.

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