Detectives accused of bungling original Stephen Lawrence inquiry will not face prosecution

6 July 2023, 14:23 | Updated: 6 July 2023, 17:28

Four ex-Met detectives will not face criminal charges in the bungled Stephen Lawrence inquiry
Four ex-Met detectives will not face criminal charges in the bungled Stephen Lawrence inquiry. Picture: Alamy

By StephenRigley

Four retired detectives who ran the first Stephen Lawrence murder investigation will not face criminal prosecution for their actions in the case.

Stephen Lawrence was killed by a gang of five or six racist attackers in southeast London as he made his way home with a friend in April 1993.

Only two of the murderers have ever been convicted. Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed for life in 2012 after a trial that relied on tiny traces of forensic evidence.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Met Police said he "recognises the strength of feeling still felt about Stephen's murder" in the wake of today's ruling.

"Today's decision follows a complex investigation carried out independently of the Metropolitan Police and after careful consideration by Crown prosecutors," he said.

"I do not underestimate the impact this decision will have. I recognise the strength of feeling still felt about Stephen’s murder, the attack on Duwayne Brooks and the initial handling of the case by the police.

"I have already acknowledged that too many mistakes were made during the first investigation into his death.“

The Metropolitan Police sought to learn from those early mistakes by subsequently undertaking some of the most comprehensive criminal investigations in the force's history in pursuit of Stephen's killers.

"Over the past thirty years there have been five major investigations and 17 reviews. I continue to encourage anyone who may have information that could progress this case to come forward and speak to police, or to the independent charity Crimestoppers."

Stephen Lawrence who was murdered by a racist gang
Stephen Lawrence who was murdered by a racist gang. Picture: Alamy

He continued: "No matter how much time has passed, we want to hear from you. “The convictions of Gary Dobson and David Norris in 2012 for murder were significant milestones.

"Although we remain frustrated that others involved have not faced justice, I am confident, that by 2020, every identified line of enquiry for every other suspect had been thoroughly examined and exhausted.

"An independent panel of experts reviewed the case and agreed there were no further lines of enquiry. The case is inactive, pending any new evidence coming to light. A routine forensic review began in May this year.

"While much has changed in policing since 1993, the recent Casey Review is a stark reminder that there are still those in our communities who feel they are not represented by policing and are being been let down, over-policed and under-protected.

"On the 30th anniversary of Stephen's death, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley resolved to right the wrongs of the past and reset relationships by continuing to build an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory Met which would deliver more trust, less crime and high standards for all Londoners."

Read More: 'Not much more can be learnt' from Stephen Lawrence case, says police watchdog

Read More: New suspect in Stephen Lawrence case 30 years on as police admit 'too many mistakes' were made in initial investigation

The CPS had been considering whether or not to charge three former Met superintendents and a former detective inspector with misconduct in public office offences over the failings of the investigation.

The decision comes after the head of the Met said the investigation into the 1993 killing may never progress the original inquiry did "such a bad job".

David Norris
David Norris. Picture: Alamy
Gary Dobson
Gary Dobson. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Stephen Lawrence's dad vows to face son's killers at parole hearings and tells to them to admit guilt over 1993 attack

Sir Mark Rowley, speaking to the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee, admitted errors made by detectives after the murder caused irreparable damage.

Last month a new suspect emerged after two witnesses said a man called Matthew White had confessed to being present during the attack. He died in August 2021.

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