In the Media

Stephen Lawrence murder sentences to be reviewed by attorney general

PUBLISHED January 5, 2012

Dominic Grieve to look into leniency of sentences handed to Gary Dobson and David Norris after receiving complaint

The attorney general, Dominic Grieve, is reviewing the sentences handed down to two of the killers of Stephen Lawrence after a request from a member of the public.

Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, were sentenced to minimum terms of 15 and 14 years respectively for murdering Lawrence. The jail terms reflected their ages at the time of the killing ? both men were juveniles ? and the sentencing guidelines at the time of the murder in 1993.

Had the men been sentenced as juveniles under today's guidelines they would have been given 25-year minimum terms for the racist knife murder.

Mr Justice Treacy, the trial judge, acknowledged on Wednesday that the sentences he was handing down were lower than those available now. His decision-making process will now be examined by lawyers for the attorney general after a member of the public complained that the jail terms were too lenient.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general's office said that sentences for certain crimes, including murder, could be reviewed if requested by members of the public.

Lawyers for the attorney general now have until 1 February to decide whether to appeal against the sentences by referring them to the court of appeal. The jail terms have not been challenged by prosecutors, who had expected that Dobson and Norris would receive 15- or 16-year minimum jail terms.

Treacy is one of the country's most knowledgeable judges on sentencing. He sits on the sentencing council, which prepares sentencing guidelines for use by judges in England and Wales.

Doreen Lawrence, Stephen's mother, has also said she understands why the judge had to impose the sentences he did. © 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