Police 'dismayed' by judge's pressure to pursue rest of gang

Jan 5, 2012

'If we could have found the evidence they would have been in the dock' says Met police source

SENIOR Metropolitan police officers are reported to be dismayed after the judge in the Stephen Lawrence case put pressure on them to bring other suspects in the black teenager's killing to justice.

Sentencing Gary Dobson and David Norris to minimum terms of 15 and 14 years respectively, Mr Justice Treacy said yesterday there were still "three or four other killers" at large and that they should be reinvestigated. He was referring to Luke Knight, Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt and a possible fourth unnamed suspect.

It prompted Metropolitan police commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe to say publicly that the suspects "should not rest easily in their beds".

But The Guardian claims senior Met officers believe privately that the chance of another conviction is "very slim". One source told the paper: "We have exhausted all police lines of inquiry and scientific lines of inquiry. Frankly, if we could have found the evidence against anyone else, doesn't the judge think they would have been in the dock with the other two?"

Officers will meet next week to decide how to proceed in the light of the judge's comments. But The Guardian understands the case could be quickly wound down if new evidence fails to emerge.

If fresh forensic evidence is unlikely, the best chance of progress is that either Dobson or Norris decides to shop other members of the racist gang who stabbed Stephen Lawrence to death in April 1993.

It is too late to offer either man a reduced sentence in return for turning 'supergrass': under the Serious Organised Crime Act 2005, that must happen before sentencing. So while detectives will visit Dobson and Norris in prison, neither can be compelled to see them.

Another hope is that a previous acquaintance or former girlfriend of one of the suspects might, in the light of Dobson and Norris's convictions, come forward with new evidence.

According to the Daily Mail, detectives have already received "a number of fresh calls" since Tuesday's convictions.

The American civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson, visiting London, hoped that "somebody in the community" might "let their conscience be their guidance and speak out".

Sign up for our daily newsletter