Timeline of events since the murder of Stephen Lawrence

Here is a timeline of events related to the murder of Stephen Lawrence:

– April 22 1993: Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death in an unprovoked racist attack by a gang of white youths as he waits at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, with his best friend Duwayne Brooks.

Stephen Lawrence
Stephen Lawrence (Family Handout/PA)

– May-June 1993: Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt, Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and David Norris are arrested in connection with his murder.

– July 1993: Committal proceedings are scheduled for Neil Acourt and Mr Knight but the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) formally discontinues the prosecution following a meeting with the senior investigating officer.

– December 1993: Southwark coroner Sir Montague Levine halts an inquest into Mr Lawrence’s death after the family’s barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, says there is “dramatic” new evidence in the case.

– April 1994: The CPS says the new evidence is insufficient to support murder charges.

– September 1994: The Lawrence family begins a private prosecution against Neil Acourt, Mr Knight and Dobson.

Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen Lawrence alongside Stephen’s father Neville, right, and brother Stuart, second left, outside the Old Bailey in 2012
Stephen Lawrence’s mother Doreen Lawrence alongside Stephen’s father Neville, right, and brother Stuart, second left, outside the Old Bailey in 2012 (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

– December 1994: Secret video evidence is filmed showing Dobson and Norris making obscene racist remarks.

– April 1996: The private prosecution against Neil Acourt, Mr Knight and Dobson begins at the Old Bailey but collapses after identification evidence is ruled inadmissible. The three are acquitted.

– February 1997: An inquest jury finds that Stephen was “unlawfully killed by five white youths”.

– December 1997: A Police Complaints Authority report on the original police investigation of Stephen’s murder identifies “significant weaknesses, omissions and lost opportunities”.

– February 1999: The Macpherson Report finds the police guilty of mistakes and “institutional racism” and makes a series of recommendations on changes to policing and wider public policy.

It also suggested a rethink of the principle of “double jeopardy”, to allow the retrial of acquitted defendants in exceptional circumstances if new evidence emerged of their guilt.

– April 1999: The five men arrested in 1993 deny involvement in the murder in a television interview.

– September 2002: Norris and Neil Acourt are jailed for 18 months for a racist attack on off-duty black policeman Gareth Reid.

– May 2004: The CPS announces there is “insufficient evidence” to prosecute anyone for the murder.

– April 2005: The double jeopardy legal principle, preventing suspects being tried twice for the same crime, is scrapped for certain offences when there is new evidence.

– November 2007: Police confirm they are investigating new forensic evidence in the case.

– May 18 2011: The Court of Appeal agrees that Dobson’s 1996 acquittal for the murder can be quashed in the face of new forensic evidence. It can then be reported for the first time that Dobson and Norris will face trial.

– November 14 2011: The trial of Dobson and Norris for Stephen’s murder begins at the Old Bailey.

Gary Dobson, left, and David Norris
Gary Dobson, left, and David Norris (CPS/PA)

– January 3 2012: Dobson and Norris are found guilty of his murder.

– March 6 2013: A major review by Mark Ellison QC finds that a Metropolitan Police “spy” was working within the “Lawrence family camp” during the course of the judicial inquiry into matters arising from his death.

– March 12 2015: Then-home secretary Theresa May launches an inquiry into undercover policing following the report of the Ellison Inquiry.

– October 16 2015: The National Crime Agency announces that the Metropolitan Police are being investigated for alleged corruption over their initial handling of the murder probe.

– March 2 2016: The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) finds that former police boss Richard Walton, who controversially met an undercover officer during the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, would have faced disciplinary proceedings if he had not been allowed to retire. It was alleged that Mr Walton “obtained information pertaining to the Lawrence family and their supporters, potentially undermining the inquiry and public confidence”.

– September 13 2016: Scotland Yard announces it has received “significant information” after a fresh appeal. Detectives were attempting to identify a woman whose DNA was on a bag strap found at the murder scene and a separate possible witness.

– April 11 2018: Scotland Yard admits it has no new lines of inquiry in the investigation into Stephen’s murder.

– April 22 2019: Then-prime minister Theresa May calls the teenager’s death a “watershed moment” for the country, as she marks the first Stephen Lawrence Day.

– July 2 2019: Former detective sergeant John Davidson, who was accused of corruption in the original inquiry into Stephen’s death, is cleared by the police watchdog.

– August 11 2020: The Met Police announce that there are no further lines of inquiry in the murder probe and the investigation is moving to an “inactive phase”.

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