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1993: Lawrence murder suspects freed

VIDEO : Investigations into the Lawrence killing will continue

Charges have been dropped against two youths accused of murdering black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

Stephen Lawrence, an A-level student from Eltham in south-east London, was stabbed to death as he waited at a bus stop with a friend last April.

Police described a racially motivated, "outrageous and senseless" assault on Mr Lawrence, 18, by a gang of between four and six white youths.

Two boys from Lewisham, aged 16 and 17 at the time of the murder, were summoned to a special hearing at New Thames youth court this morning.

They were due to be committed for trial next week but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said there was "insufficient evidence to provide a real prospect of conviction".

Scotland Yard detectives have interviewed 2,500 people in connection with the incident, but they refused to comment on the CPS decision.


"It is unbelievable that the police have been unable to secure the evidence"

Imran Khan, Lawrence family solicitor

The murder inquiry continues and charges may be reinstated at a later date. Two other teenagers, arrested on 7 May, remain on bail.

The Lawrence family solicitor, Imran Khan, feared local racial unrest in the light of the CPS action.

He said: "It is quite unbelievable that the police have been unable to secure the evidence required to commit these youths for trial after three months."

There were anti-racist demonstrations across London after Stephen Lawrence's murder and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela visited the family when he was last in the UK.

Mr Lawrence's parents are in Jamaica to bury their son, but intend to return to the UK for the trial.

Stephen's father Neville called for the British National Party headquarters in Welling to be closed down after his son's funeral in nearby Woolwich last month.

In Context
Ten days later police and community leaders put up a 5,000 reward to catch Stephen's killers.

In December 1993 the inquest re-opened and was adjourned in the light of new evidence.

The Lawrence family brought a civil prosecution against Neil and Jamie Acourt, Luke Knight, David Norris and Gary Dobson in April 1995.

The case against Jamie Acourt and David Norris was dropped for lack of evidence in August of that year.

The trial of Neil Acourt, Gary Dobson and David Knight began in April 1996, but collapsed within a week after eyewitness evidence was ruled inadmissible.

The jury at the inquest at Southwark Coroner's Court returned a verdict of unlawful killing in February 1997.

A public inquiry began in 1998 and the Macpherson Report - describing "institutional racism" in the police force - was published in February 1999.

David Norris, 25, and Neil Acourt, 27, were imprisoned in July 2002 for an unrelated race hate crime.

In July 2006 the Lawrence family called for a new inquiry into the case following claims by a BBC documentary that one of the officers involved was corrupt.


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