Stephen Lawrence trial: Jury retires to consider verdict

Murder victim Stephen Lawrence Stephen Lawrence was attacked by a group of white youths in south-east London

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The jury in the Stephen Lawrence murder trial has retired to consider its verdict at the Old Bailey.

During his summing-up, Mr Justice Treacy warned the jurors to set aside any emotion during their deliberations.

Mr Lawrence, 18, was stabbed in a racist gang attack in Eltham, south-east London in 1993.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, deny murder, and say forensic evidence was contaminated. The jury will resume its deliberations on Friday.

The trial, which began at the Old Bailey on 14 November, is in its seventh week.

The court is normally closed throughout the week after Christmas but has been specially opened during the holiday period for this case.

During his summing-up Mr Justice Treacy told the jury of four women and eight men that they must "reach verdicts on the basis of cool, calm consideration".

Take time

He set out the key questions that jurors must answer to reach a verdict, in the form of a flow chart.

The first question, he said, concerned the new forensic evidence relating to textile fibres, blood and hair, and whether jurors could be sure it came from Mr Lawrence.

If so, they have to be sure it was not contaminated and if that cannot be excluded, they must return a verdict of not guilty.

They jury then has to be sure that the defendants took part in the attack on Mr Lawrence, and if so, they intended to kill him or cause serious harm.

Under joint enterprise they can be convicted of murder if they did not inflict the killer blow, but if they knew someone in the group intended to cause serious harm.

The judge stressed they could take as long as necessary to reach a verdict.

"You should take as long as you need to be faithful to your oath. You took an oath to consider the evidence and to return true verdicts according to the evidence. So you take as long or as little as you need."

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