THE FIVE suspects for the murder of Stephen Lawrence were described by the inquiry report into the botched police investigation as "infected and invaded by gross and revolting racism".
For nearly a decade the Metropolitan Police have been trying to put the five young men behind bars for the stabbing of the black 18- year-old at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London.
Yesterday, two of the suspects were locked up and now face a substantial stretch in jail after the police secured a conviction for an offence unrelated to Stephen's murder.
David Norris, 25, and Neil Acourt, 27, could be imprisoned for up to two years after a jury found them guilty of carrying out a racist attack on an off-duty black police officer.
Norris, a passenger in a car driven by Acourt threw a drink at Det Con Gareth Reid and shouted "nigger" as the policeman walked home from Eltham railway station - about a mile from the spot Stephen was murdered - in May last year.
Acourt drove the car at DC Reid as part of a "joint enterprise" with Norris to cause him harassment, alarm or distress motivated "by virtue of one reason and one reason alone - his colour", the court decided. The type of racism exhibited by the two young men was precisely the kind of abuse highlighted in the Lawrence inquiry report in 1999 by Sir William Macpherson of Cluny who stressed that Acourt and Norris had been "prime" murder suspects from the very start.
The report published details of secret police surveillance of four of the suspects taken in 1994, a year after Stephen's murder. The surveillance "showed violent racism at its worst," concluded Sir William.
The video of the youths mouthing racist obscenities and wielding knives included Neil Acourt saying: "I reckon that every nigger should be chopped up mate and they should be left with nothing but f*****g stumps..."
David Norris adds: "If I was going to kill myself do you know what I'd do? I'd go and kill every black c**t, every Paki, every copper, every mug that I know."
After the Stephen's murder, attempts to prosecute Norris, Acourt and his brother Jamie, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight all ended in failure.
Since the collapse of the case and the criticism meted out to Scotland Yard, who were accused of "institutionalised racism" by the Macpherson report the police have spent an estimated pounds 30m in the past three years re-investigating the murder.
The inquiry includes keeping all five suspects, their families and friends, under close scrutiny.
New evidence …