In the Media

Stephen Lawrence murder: reaction to sentencing of Gary Dobson and David Norris

PUBLISHED January 4, 2012

? Gary Dobson sentenced to minimum of 15 years two months
? David Norris sentenced to minimum of 14 years three months

12.43pm: Here are the sentencing remarks for Mr Justice Treacy today.

The remarks include:

A totally innocent 18 year old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street in front of eye witnesses by a racist thuggish gang. You were both members of that gang. I have no doubt at all that you fully subscribed to its views and attitudes. The covert Footscray DVD with its disgusting and shocking scenes and the nature of the attack itself convince me of that.

This crime was committed for no other reason than racial hatred. You did not know Stephen Lawrence or Duwayne Brooks. Neither of them had done anything to harm, threaten or offend you in any way, apart from being black and making their way peaceably to the bus-stop on their way home.

At least one of your group was armed with a lethal knife that night. I am sure you were aware of that. The Footscray tapes, although recorded in 1994, reveal the sort of people you were and associated with in 1993. They reveal not only violent racist attitudes but also a casual and accepting attitude to the carrying and use of knives. They reveal a group acceptance of the use of knives to threaten or harm black people ...

The evidence does not prove so that I could be sure that either of you had a knife, but the person who used it did so with your knowledge and approval.
That is apparent from the brief nature of the attack in which those who were unarmed did not themselves inflict blows or kicks of sufficient gravity to leave injury or involve themselves in a sustained attack as they would if this was a conventional plan to beat up. The attack lasted in the region of 10 seconds and then the whole group moved off together as one making its escape. I take the view that, in the circumstances, it does not matter that the knife was not in your hands.

The cohesive nature of the group tells its story. It is not as if, for example, one person unexpectedly did something that no one else expected or approved of.

You, Dobson, repeatedly lied to keep Norris' name away from the police, a clear example of group loyalty.

Whilst the attack on Stephen Lawrence himself clearly could not have been pre-meditated since it was a chance encounter, I cannot accept that a crime of this type simply arose on the spur of the moment. The way in which the attack took place strongly suggests to me that your group, if not actively seeking out a victim, was prepared, if opportunity arose, to attack in the way in which you did.

12.39pm: There is a constant stream of reaction to the sentencing on Twitter. Here are some examples.

The general feeling seems to be that the sentences are too short, although this seems to be tempered by relief that Dobson and Norris have at least been convicted, 19 years after the murder.

12.34pm: My colleague Vikram Dodd reports a crowd of 100 outside the Old Bailey. The Lawrence family are due to speak soon.

12.27pm: Brian Paddick, formerly of the Metropolitan police and now Lib Dem candidate for mayor of London, has just been speaking to the BBC about stop and search. The Met has improved the way it carries out stop and search since Stephen Lawrence was killed in 1993, he says, but it is still carried out disproportionately against black people.

The Press Association has more quotes from Mr Justice Treacy, passing sentence today:

A totally innocent 18-year-old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street in front of eye witnesses by a racist, thuggish gang.

You were both members of that gang. I have no doubt at all that you fully subscribed to its views and attitudes.

He said that undercover police footage of the pair using racist obscenities showed "disgusting and shocking scenes", and that the murder was committed "for no other reason than racial hatred".

12.22pm: Scotland Yard commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe (left) has said "the other people involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence should not rest easily in their beds", the Press Association reports.

Speaking before this morning's sentencing, he made an appeal to possible witnesses: "Anything you know, please tell us ... We can make a difference in this case still."

The Metropolitan police "are actively reviewing the consequences of what opportunities might be presented", Hogan-Howe said.

When asked about allegations that the Metropolitan police was still institutionally racist, Hogan-Howe said: "I hope we are not but it is a bit like asking someone if they are a nice person. Are we the best people to ask?"

He said the force was "hugely different from where we were" at the time of Lawrence's death.

Mr Justice Treacy said the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence was a "terrible and evil crime" as he began sentencing Gary Dobson and David Norris today.

12.19pm: Sandra Laville reports that the judge ordered the Metropolitan police to continue with its investigation into the murder and praised Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, the senior investigating officer in the latest investigation.

12.15pm: Michael Mansfield QC, who represented Lawrence's parents at his inquest, is speaking on BBC News. He says that "it is a very important landmark that race has to be considered within the context of crime".

Mansfield points out that after Dobson and Norris have served their minimum sentences, they may not be immediately released ? it may be felt that they are not eligible for parole at this point. "I suspect they will serve more than the minimum."

Dobson's father shouted "shame on you all" after the sentencing, according to the BBC.

12.13pm: Gary Dobson and David Norris have been sentenced for the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Gary Dobson must serve a minimum of 15 years and two months before he is eligible for parole.

David Norris must serve a minimum of 14 years and three months before he is eligible for parole.

The defendants did not respond, going down quietly, Sandra Laville reports from the court.

12.13pm: David Norris has been sentenced to a minimum of 14 years and three months.

12.12pm: Gary Dobson has been given a minimum term of 15 years and two months.

12.11pm: His starting point is 12 years and he is going to adjust that up or down due to aggravating or mitigating factors, the judge says, according to the BBC. Gary Dobson is standing to he
ar his sentence now, according to the BBC.

12.07pm: Gary Dobson and David Norris, the two men convicted of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence, are about to be sentenced

The pair were 17 and 16 at the time of the murder. Their sentence will take into account as a starting point the fact that they were juveniles at the time of the fatal stabbing.

Mr Justice Treacy, the trial judge, will also take aggravating factors into account: specifically that the murder was racist, and also that the pair realised one of their group might use a knife.

According to the BBC, Treacy said Dobson repeatedly lied out of loyalty to the group he was with. He said the encounter was chance, not premeditated, but Dobson and Norris were prepared to attack, the BBC reports.

He said Dobson and Norris were part of a racist, thuggish gang, the BBC reports. There can be no mitigation for contrition, the judge said, according to the BBC.

You lied to the court, the judge told them, my colleague Sandra Laville reports.

Neither of you has shown any regret or remorse, he told them. You are now both in your mid-30s but I have to look at you as you were at the time, Treacy said. There is nothing I have seen that suggests either of you were immature or easily led, he told them. I must sentence you by reference to your age and maturity at the time not as the mature men you are now.

An adult committing this crime now would face life with a starting point of 30 years after changes to the law 2003, Treacey says. © 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