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 You are in: Special Report: 1999: 02/99: Stephen Lawrence  
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EDITIONS
Stephen Lawrence Friday, 19 February, 1999, 19:26 GMT
Stephen's stolen promise
Stephen's story has touched the nation
Stephen Lawrence did not know his killers. He had never been involved in crime. All he wanted was to be an architect.

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events

Why Stephen didn't run when his attackers approached no one will ever know. But those close to him believe it was consistent with his trusting nature.

"Stephen was strong but thought that if he didn't do anything to anyone, people would not make trouble for him," said Duwayne Brooks, the friend with Stephen on the night of the murder.

A shining example

Stephen's parents say their son was too good-natured to see evil in others. An ethos of tolerance and equality shaped Stephen's character at home and school.

Duwayne Brooks
Duwayne Brooks
Plumstead, south-east London, is a mixed community. Stephen had friends from different racial backgrounds. Family life was based on religious faith and education.

Stephen was born in 1974, first child to Doreen and Neville who emigrated from Jamaica in the 1960s. He was followed by Stuart, now 21, and Georgina, now 16.

Neville was a carpenter, upholsterer, tailor and plasterer. Doreen took a university course and became a special needs teacher.

"The irony is that the Lawrences behaved exactly how every black family is supposed to behave," said The Reverend David Cruise, who led the Trinity Methodist Church where the family worshipped. "They were law-abiding, close, stable, relaxed and upwardly mobile."

Stephen grew up with confidence in himself and others. Bright and determined, by the age of seven, he had resolved to become an architect. At 12 he was in charge of his own birthday party.

"Stephen was very sharp. One Christmas I played Father Christmas but wore my normal shoes," Reverend Cruise remembered. "Little Stephen spotted the mistake and told his parents I was a fake. The next year I wore boots."

At the time of his death he was studying A-levels in English, craft, design and technology and physics at Blackheath Bluecoat School. A local architect had already offered him a job.

Average bloke

But Stephen's success was not confined to the classroom. He loved athletics and once ran for Greenwich. As a Cub, then Scout, he won an armful of badges for everything from cooking to sailing.

But like most teenagers, Stephen liked going out, girls and music. His favourites were Soul and R and B.

Reverend Cruise says it would be wrong paint to him as a saint.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence
"Stephen was no goody-goody. He had his rebellious streak. Mrs Lawrence asked me to talk sense into him when he hadn't been behaving well. When I tried he just smiled his cheeky, knowing grin."

In sum, Stephen Lawrence was a normal young man gifted with maturity and charm.

Marion Randall, the Lawrences' neighbour in Plumstead for 13 years, summed up the community's memory.

"I feel like I have lost one my own. But though my kids and Stephen's friends are now grown-up just who Stephen would have been we will never know."

Links to more Stephen Lawrence stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Stephen Lawrence stories

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