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Stephen Lawrence Tuesday, 23 February, 1999, 16:10 GMT
Fighting for Stephen
Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare. But losing their son to murder has, for Doreen and Neville Lawrence, meant six years of living hell.

Stephen Lawrence case: Timeline of events
They have been shunned by the police, the criminal justice system has let them down - even their once-solid home life has suffered from the strain.

But despite the set-backs, Neville and Doreen have continued to fight hard for justice.

"I am doing what any other father would have done in my position. I love my child and he's not here to do what I'm doing so I have to do it for him," said Neville earlier this year.

Shattered dreams

In the years since Stephen was killed, Neville and Doreen have rubbed shoulders with the likes of the Home Secretary and Nelson Mandela.

Their determination has placed attitudes to race relations under the spotlight and brought about one of the biggest shake-ups of the country's police force.

It is a far cry from what they expected when they came from Jamaica to Britain - the country they believed stood for "principles and equal rights".

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela visiting Eltham in 1993
After his arrival in London in 1960, aged 18, Neville trained in plastering, upholstery and carpentry. By 1962, nine-year old Doreen was living in Brockley in Kent.

Their romance began on an outing to an open-air concert. After they tied the knot in 1972, they set up home in a flat in Plumstead. Stephen was born in 1974, followed by Stuart, now 21 and Georgina, 18.

Doreen worked in a bank but later helped out at Georgina's school and eventually studied a degree course to became a special needs teacher.

"They were a friendly, relaxed, religious and law-abiding family who brought their children up with self-confidence and not to distinguish between black and white," says The Reverend David Cruise who led the family's parish church in Plumstead.

Life changed in an instant

The family was to come face to face with the ugly reality of racism on the 22 April 1993 - the night of Stephen's murder. Since then they have had to leave their home after suffering racist abuse and attacks.

As individuals they have dealt with grief in different ways. In the early days, Doreen was the more vocal. It was she who led the fight for justice giving most of the media interviews.

More recently however, Neville has taken centre stage finding himself addressing conferences and forging links with other campaigns.

richard adams
Richard Adams
He is now good friends with Richard Adams - the father of the young black man Rolan Adams who was killed in a racist attack in 1991.

But the strain of battling in the name of a loved one has taken its toll. Both have often felt gripped by despair and at their wits end.

When their private prosecution failed in 1996, Neville had to get away and went to Jamaica for six months.

And despite every effort to keep their marriage together, Neville and Doreen are now living apart.

A degree of justice

Their experience has shattered their faith in the British police and society they respected. The say they have either been ignored or treated as criminals themselves.

Throughout it all the Lawrence's have carried on Stephen's fight.

Realising that their son's killers may never be convicted, they set out to prove that racism among the police hampered the investigation into his murder.

Their claims were intensively scrutinised in last year's inquiry into the handling of the case.

Now that they have been vindicated by Sir William Macpherson's findings, Neville and Doreen can perhaps feel a degree of justice has been done.

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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