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Monday, 24 December, 2001, 10:02 GMT
Lawrence evidence 'could trap killers'
Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence's was murdered in April 1993
The killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence could still be jailed, a senior detective has told the BBC.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve said new evidence was continuing to emerge, more than eight years after Stephen was stabbed in Eltham, south east London.

The head of Scotland Yard's Racial and Violent Crime Task Force told Radio 4's Today programme: "People change their allegiances, their alliances, but particularly the way they think about some things.

"We have been talking to people who actually say that what happened then was not right and they want to try and do something about it."

Mr Grieve warned people holding back information to "come forward before we come to you".

'Legal maze'

Mr Grieve said a "complex legal maze" must still be overcome before the 18-year-old's killers can be prosecuted.

We have been talking to people who actually say that what happened then was not right and they want to try and do something about it

John Grieve
In his quest to solve the murder Mr Grieve said he had been inspired by cases dating back 30 years that still produced new leads.

However, he refused to endorse the opinion of the Met's commissioner Sir John Stevens, who said earlier this year that he knew who killed Stephen Lawrence.

"You don't want cops deciding who's guilty. It's a matter for a jury," he said.


Mr Grieve argued the police force had undergone radical changes since a report on the original murder investigation found there had been a catalogue of errors including inadequate searches, botched identity parades and "institutional racism".

Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Grieve
John Grieve is optimistic the killers will be prosecuted
He said it was a "tribute" to Stephen's parents, Neville and Doreen, that officers were now much more sensitive to different cultures.

Mr Grieve said: "We're much more conscious about the patchwork quilt that is London's community."

He said the change was particularly evident since 11 September, through "the way that we have looked after the synagogues, the mosques, the temples".


Neil Acourt, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight were tried at the Old Bailey for the murder but were formally acquitted in April 1996.

The judge ruled that identification evidence from Duwayne Brooks, a friend of Stephen, was inadmissible.

The case against two other men had been discontinued.

The case led to proposals to end the double jeopardy rule which prevents suspects being tried twice for the same crime.

Under a new system, murder suspects can be retried if a judge rules there is compelling new evidence.

Earlier this month a 27-year-old man was arrested and questioned in connection with the murder.

He was released on police bail to return to a south London police station on 14 January.

John Grieve, Head of Scotland Yard's race unit
"We're still appealing to people to come forward."
See also:

25 Mar 99 | Stephen Lawrence
The Lawrence inquiry
05 Dec 01 | England
Lawrence police free man on bail
04 Dec 01 | England
Man quizzed over Lawrence murder
14 Sep 01 | UK
Lawrence suspects bailed
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