In the Media

Stephen Lawrence: police have nine remaining suspects

PUBLISHED January 3, 2012

Investigation into Stephen Lawrence murder remains open and police appeal for anyone with more information to come forward

Police have a list of nine remaining suspects for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, including the Acourt brothers and Luke Knight.

During the latest investigation into the racist killing detectives looked at 187 suspects who had been identified by the previous Met inquiry in 1999.

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll, the senior investigating officer, said his investigation team had eliminated most of these individuals.

They were left with 11 suspects, including Dobson and Norris, Neil and Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight ? the five men who were named by the Macpherson report as prime suspects for the killing. The Old Bailey jury has heard that the Acourts and Knight were suspects for the murder and were arrested along with Dobson and Norris two weeks after the killing.

With the convictionof Dobson and Norris, the investigation into the Lawrence murder remains open and Driscoll appealed for anyone who might have information to come forward.

Today the Acourts and Knight all live within a few miles of the brass plaque on Well Hall Road which marks the spot where Lawrence died.

All have attempted to keep their past a secret, in the hope that as the years pass memories will fade. But Detective Superintendent Jill Bailey said she was always hopeful that other evidence would come to light, perhaps as allegiances changed.

"We all know from the evidence presented in court there were more than two attackers involved," she said.

"I am always hopeful because there have been quite a number of cases over the years from forensic advancement, changing allegiances of people and new information that is reported to us that takes a case forward, so I will remain hopeful."

In a tree-lined street in Sidcup, Kent, where Jamie Acourt now lives with his partner and two children, few people were aware until the last few weeks of the past suspicions hanging over him.

Acourt's life is that of an ordinary family man. Two children's scooters sit in his front garden and a Christmas tree lights up the bay window of the Victorian terrace house.

"They are a lovely family," said Lilian Bakewell, a neighbour. "He always says 'hello Lil' when he sees me, and the children are lovely. He goes off to play football and gives me a wave.

"She [his partner] has just set up a baby clothes shop [in a nearby town], and that's given her something to keep busy with. They are lovely neighbours.

"I didn't know anything about all this, and I don't know what to think really."

Less than two miles away Acourt's brother, Neil, lives in a newly refurbished bungalow. Until fairly recently he was living with a girlfriend in Sidcup. Neil Acourt now uses his mother's maiden name of Stuart to avoid being recognised.

His silver Mercedes sits in his driveway, driven as close to the front door as possible, apparently to avoid being photographed as he gets in and out.

Both men were named during the murder trial as suspects for the Lawrence murder, and it was at their family home, a rundown council house on the Brook Estate, a short distance from the murder scene, where the Macpherson report records police finding in May 1993 a stash of weapons; a knife behind the TV set, another Gurkha type knife in one of the padlocked bedrooms, a sword under the cushions of a sofa as well as knives in another bedroom and an air gun type revolver.

Neil Acourt, now 35, was generally seen as the gang's leader. In the covert police surveillance video made in 1994, he is filmed talking about "chopping up" black people, whom he referred to as "niggers".

Since Lawrence's murder, he has been convicted in 2001 with David Norris of racially-aggravated harassment of an off-duty black police officer and, a year earlier, of possessing an offensive weapon. He claimed he carried the weapon ? a baton ? as protection against revenge attacks. Both the Acourts and their mother have complained in the past that they have been targeted by anti-racist groups.

Luke Knight, who lived in Well Hall Road at the time of the murder, now lives with his parents in Eltham.

Over the past 18 years he has complained that he has been the subject of racial abuse and is understood to have requested that the council move him in the past because of harassment. © 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