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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 18:09 GMT 19:09 UK
Lawrence police 'missed chance'
Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence was attacked at a bus stop
A key opportunity to prosecute suspects in the murder of Stephen Lawrence was missed, a former detective involved with the case has said.

David Clapperton believes there may be sufficient evidence to try suspects for conspiracy to stab, which carries a maximum life sentence.

They were alleged to be part of a gang known as the Krays, where the initiation to join was to stab someone.

Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.

'Golden opportunity'

Mr Clapperton, former Kent Assistant Chief Constable, ran the probe into a complaint against the Metropolitan Police's handling of the murder.

"I believe that there was, and maybe still is, evidence from various people, local to Eltham, that could expose an agreement between the gang members that to join the gang you had to stab someone," he said.

I was right to suspect that the re-investigation missed a golden opportunity to prosecute the suspects
Neville Lawrence

Mr Clapperton works with the legal team of Stephen's father, Neville Lawrence, who has started a fresh bid to prosecute those suspected of his son's death.

Mr Lawrence has started judicial review proceedings to see all the information behind the Crown Prosecution's decision not to begin a new prosecution.

"I was right to suspect that the re-investigation missed a golden opportunity to prosecute the suspects, " he said.

"It may not be a prosecution for Stephen's murder but it would still be significant and would show the suspects that they are not above the law."

No-one has been convicted of the killing.

Neil Acourt, his brother Jamie, David Norris, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight, were arrested but nobody was ever charged.

The Metropolitan Police investigation which followed Stephen Lawrence's death led to an inquiry which found the force was guilty of "institutional racism".

It also found investigators had made a catalogue of errors.

Stephen Lawrence
06 May 04 |  Newsnight Home

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