Attorney general decides not to refer jail sentences of Gary Dobson and David Norris to court of appeal
The sentences handed out to two men for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence will not be referred by the attorney general to the court of appeal for a decision on whether they were unduly lenient.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were sentenced to life last month, with Dobson ordered to serve at least 15 years and two months and Norris 14 years and three months. It emerged this week that both men are seeking to challenge their convictions.
The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, said he had taken the decision after "careful review" of the case.
He said: "This was a despicable and appalling crime. Justice was long delayed and I can fully understand why some people are unhappy that the minimum terms handed down were not longer.
"However, having considered the sentences carefully I have come to the conclusion that the minimum terms are within the appropriate range of sentences, bearing in mind the offenders' ages at the time of the crime, and therefore I have decided not to refer them to the court of appeal.
"It is perhaps worth emphasising that the terms are the minimum periods that will actually be served. Dobson and Norris will not be released unless and until the parole board considers they do not pose a risk."
At the Old Bailey last month, the trial judge, Mr Justice Treacy, said Lawrence's murder was a "terrible and evil crime". He urged police not to "close the file" on catching the rest of the killers, after the court heard that a gang of five or six white youths set upon the A-level student in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.
Treacy said the murder was committed "for no other reason than racial hatred". Explaining the length of sentences against Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, he said: "In short, the law dictates that I must sentence you by reference to your age and maturity at the time of the crime. I cannot sentence you as the mature men you now are.
"In addition, I must sentence you in accordance with the practice in force before the coming into force of schedule 21 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 which now governs sentencing for more modern murders ? It may be, therefore, that the resultant sentences are lower than some might expect, but the law as laid down by parliament must be applied and I am constrained by it."