UK

Stephen Lawrence's father 'totally satisfied'

  • 9 January 2012
  • From the section UK
Media captionNeville Lawrence on finally getting two men convicted of his son's murder

The father of Stephen Lawrence says he is "satisfied" after two men were jailed for life for murdering his son.

Last week Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were jailed for the racist murder in south-east London in 1993.

Mr Lawrence told the BBC he was also hoping evidence might emerge about the whereabouts of the murder weapon.

Earlier Mr Lawrence's best friend, Duwayne Brooks, who suffered post-traumatic stress disorder, said "it was all worth it" following the conviction.

Mr Lawrence, 18, was stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waited at a bus stop in Eltham, with Mr Brooks.

Initial prosecutions collapsed because of insufficient evidence after a flawed police investigation, and a private prosecution later brought by his parents also failed.

However, a law change and advances in forensic techniques allowed a second prosecution, which led to the conviction of Dobson and Norris.

On Monday Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain was a "less racist country" than in 1993 but still had a problem.

Neville Lawrence said: "I'm totally satisfied. I'm pleased about the way the second group of officers handled themselves and the way they have handled the family. They showed us a lot of respect and told us what was going on."

He said he was "quite happy" with the sentences which were handed out and added: "They have to do certain things before they can even be considered for parole after the 14 or 15 years."

He said he was still hopeful other members of the gang which killed his son might be convicted.

Mr Lawrence said: "If these people have hidden the knife, and if one of those inside tells the police where it is, there must be DNA on it and it must be possible to convict other members of the gang."

He said two people had come to him since the conviction with information which he had passed on to the police.

Offers reconciliation

Mr Lawrence, who now lives in Jamaica, also offered a message of reconciliation to Mr Brooks, who fell out with the Lawrence family after the murder.

He said: "We were told (in 1993) he had run away and left Stephen."

Image caption Mr Brooks suffered post-traumatic stress disorder

But he said: "I was pleased to see the way he gave evidence when his father had died the night before. I think he felt he had to explain himself."

Mr Lawrence said: "I tried to meet him afterwards but he was in such a state that he couldn't meet. I would like to meet him before I go back to Jamaica."

Mr Brooks told Radio 4's Today programme: "For 18 years I have endured harassment and victimisation and feeling blame for the private prosecution failing, being brutalised and having false charges brought against me."

He added: "To see two members of the gang convicted, for me it was all worth it."

Mr Brooks, 37, said it was a "partial victory" but he praised the police for bringing the two men to justice.

"Those names have been an open secret for 18 years. We have known for 18 years the names of those who took part in the attack on Stephen Lawrence and to see two of those go down was worth the struggle."

'Tremendous job'

Mr Brooks, who is now a Liberal Democrat councillor in Lewisham, said of the police: "They have done a tremendous job, the second investigation, they've done a tremendous job in bringing those two to justice.

"Yes, we would like all six to be brought to justice but at this moment in time they have done a tremendous job and they should be commended for the work and effort."

But he added: "It's going to be very difficult to bring any charges against the other four involved."

He went on to say that it had been a mistake to bring the original private prosecution in 1995.

"I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in a serious way.

"I blamed myself and other people blamed me, which was worse - the headlines said the main witness changed his statement. That was never the case but nobody took the time to investigate what was happening with Duwayne Brooks."

Mr Brooks was repeatedly asked about his relationship with the Lawrence family, who he fell out with many years ago.

He sidestepped the question and replied: "If it was not for the Lawrence family and myself we would not have justice today and we would not be giving hope to other families."

'Disadvantaged'

Mr Cameron told Sky News: "I think we are a less racist country but we have still got a problem with racism.

"We have still got a problem of people from different racial backgrounds being disadvantaged in Britain.

"The country has come a huge way since that dreadful murder, but there is still a lot more to be done," he added.

He refused to be drawn on the question of whether the detective team which investigated the Lawrence case should be disbanded, saying: "It's a matter for the police. They must feel empowered to seek the truth and find justice.

"The Metropolitan Police and Metropolitan Police Authority - I believe in trusting them to make those decisions and I think it is right that they should."

At the weekend Stephen Lawrence's younger brother Stuart told the Daily Mirror how his childhood was affected by the murder.

He said he was still angry that the life of him and his sister Georgina had been "put on hold" while their parents fought for justice.

Stuart, who was 16 when his brother died, said: "Stephen's death had a huge impact on our family. It led to the collapse of my parents' marriage and left strained relationships between all of us."