In the Media

Stephen Lawrence murder: Difficult trial was in safe hands

PUBLISHED January 4, 2012

Mr Justice Treacy presided over a case that presented numerous hurdles that could have disrupted proceedings

Mr Justice Treacy proved a safe pair of hands in bringing the Stephen Lawrence murder trial to a successful conclusion, despite challenges that included a potentially prejudicial magazine article and the disruption inherent in a hearing that spanned the Christmas and New Year holidays.

It was his decision to continue the trial after confirming that none of the jurors had read the article in question and it was his choice to sit last week, when the Old Bailey would otherwise have been closed. Unanimous verdicts were reached by the jury after a relatively short retirement by modern standards. In sentencing Dobson and Norris, Treacy eschewed any headline-grabbing condemnation ? contenting himself with quoting the lord chief justice's description of the murder as one that "scarred the conscience of the nation". Only once in sentencing did he express his feelings, saying he was "constrained" by parliament to pass minimum detention periods lower than some might expect.

Sir Colman Treacy was a leading criminal practitioner in Birmingham before his appointment as a high court judge 10 years ago. He had proved himself as a judge in two previous ground-breaking trials. One was of the Afghan warlord Faryadi Zardad, prosecuted under the principles of universal jurisdiction for crimes committed abroad.

He was presiding judge on the Midland circuit from 2006 to 2009 and is currently a member of the Sentencing Council, which sets guidelines for other judges. These responsibilities put Treacy, 62, in a strong position when the next vacancy arises for a criminal specialist in the court of appeal. The Lawrence case will have done his chances of promotion no harm at all. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds