Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

STEPHEN LAWRENCE MURDER: NEW TRIAL; TWO CHARGED ... 18 YEARS AFTER TEENAGER WAS STABBED TO DEATH; New Evidence Brings Hope of Justice for Lawrence Family; 'Bomber Jacket and Cardigan Link Dobson to the Murder'

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

STEPHEN LAWRENCE MURDER: NEW TRIAL; TWO CHARGED ... 18 YEARS AFTER TEENAGER WAS STABBED TO DEATH; New Evidence Brings Hope of Justice for Lawrence Family; 'Bomber Jacket and Cardigan Link Dobson to the Murder'

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Cheston and Justin Davenport

TWO men will stand trial for the racist murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence 18 years after his death.

Gary Dobson, 35, and David Norris, 34, will face a jury at the Old Bailey in November after new scientific evidence emerged.

Stephen, a promising A-level student, was stabbed to death on April 22, 1993 at a bus stop in Eltham by white youths shouting racist comments.

The decision to re-try Dobson, who was acquitted at the Old Bailey in 1996, was announced today at the Court of Appeal by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge. He quashed Dobson's not-guilty verdict under legislation affecting the "double jeopardy" rule. Introduced in 2003, it allows murder cases to be reopened even after acquittal if there is "new and compelling" evidence.

Fresh scientific evidence has emerged involving a grey bomber jacket and a multi-coloured cardigan which, the prosecution claims, links Dobson to the murder. Speaking on the steps of the High Court, Stephen's mother Doreen said she hoped the family would finally get justice, adding: "It has been a long time for us to get to this position."

A spokesman for Stephen's father Neville said he was "relieved and delighted ... He has waited 18 years for a full trial in relation to the murder of his son and he continues to hope for justice."

Stephen, who was 18 when he died and would be 36 now, was described by the judge as a "young black man of great promise" killed "just because of the colour of his skin". Lord Judge said of the new evidence: "It does not, and could not, demonstrate that Dobson wielded the knife which caused the fatal wound.

"But given the circumstances ... a group of youths in a violent enterprise converging on a young man and attacking him as a group, it would be open to a jury to conclude that any one of those who participated in the attack was party to the killing and guilty of murder, or alternatively manslaughter. "If reliable, the new scientific evidence would place Dobson in very close proximity indeed to Stephen at the moment of, and in the immediate aftermath of, the attack -- proximity moreover for which no innocent explanation can be discerned." Mr and Mrs Lawrence were in court. Only Norris was present in the dock, dressed in a grey suit and open-neck pale blue shirt and flanked by three prison officers.

Dobson's defence counsel, Timothy Roberts QC, argued the new evidence was "unreliable and of no sufficient probative value" because of possible contamination over the years. He also said that the "huge wave of constant publicity over the years" was so prejudicial there could not be a fair trial. But in his ruling, the judge said: "After conducting a detailed examination of a large body of evidence we have come to the conclusion that there is sufficient reliable and substantial new evidence to justify the quashing of the acquittal and to order a new trial. …

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