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Wednesday, 24 July, 2002, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Lawrence pair guilty of race attack
David Norris and Neil Acourt
David Norris (left) and Neil Acourt denied the charges
Two of the suspects in the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation have been found guilty of carrying out a racist attack on an off-duty black police officer.

David Norris, 25, a passenger in a car driven by Neil Acourt, 27, threw a McDonald's drink at Detective Constable Gareth Reid and shouted racial abuse at him as he walked home from Eltham railway station on 11 May last year.

Acourt, meanwhile, drove the car at Mr Reid as part of what the judge called a "joint enterprise".

The two defendants were remanded in custody for sentencing on 27 August.


We will continue to work to bring the perpetrators of hate crime to justice

Detective Inspector Stuart Goodwin
Both men denied the charge of racially-aggravated intentional harassment, causing alarm or distress.

Giving evidence at Woolwich Crown Court, Norris maintained he had not used any racist language and said he threw the cup because he "flipped" in a "moment of madness".

He said his state of mind had been brought on by "nine years of persecution" following the Lawrence investigation.

But on Wednesday a jury took two hours to reject their defence and find the pair had targeted Mr Reid because he was black.

Offensive weapon

Judge Michael Carroll said: "I have sat and listened to the behaviour by the two defendants.

"I am satisfied on the material before me that if I permitted bail there would be substantial grounds to believe further offences will be committed."

The court was told that Acourt was convicted of possession of an offensive weapon on 14 February.

The judge was also told that Norris had convictions for driving offences and theft.

David Norris covers his face as he arrives at court on Wednesday
David Norris denied being a racist during the trial
After the case, Detective Inspector Stuart Goodwin from Scotland Yard's Serious Crime Group said: "This case was treated as a critical incident from the beginning.

"The fact this case came to court, and the verdict today, sends out a strong message to the people of London that the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown will continue to work together to bring the perpetrators of hate crime to justice."

Acourt and Norris were among five men accused of murdering black teenager Stephen Lawrence in April 1993.

The Lawrence family brought a private prosecution against the five three years later but the action was dropped at the committal stage.

Acourt also stood trial for murder at the Old Bailey with two others but the judge ordered the jury to return a not guilty verdict.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Duncan Kennedy
"Unknown to Acourt and Norris they had levelled their volley of racial abuse at an off-duty black detective"
Stephen Cape reports
"The officer said the vehicle was driven at him, swerving away at the last minute"

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23 Jul 02 | England
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