Stephen Lawrence: timeline

By Hassan Mahamdallie | 29 April 2014

This timeline goes with our three-part investigation, with new information on how Stephen Lawrence’s killers escaped on the night of the murder and the racist criminal gangs of 1990s south east London.

>> Read Part 1 here
>> Read Part 2 here
>> Read Part 3 here


Fascist British National Party (BNP) opens its headquarters, a fortified “bookshop” on Upper Wickham Lane, Welling, south east London. Racist attacks in the area soar.


21 February Rolan Adams, 15, is murdered in a racist mob attack on the Thamesmead Estate, south east London. The police treat it as a gang killing.


11 July Rohit Duggal, 15, is stabbed to death in a racist attack on Well Hall Road, Eltham. The police refuse to record it as racially motivated.


22 April 18 year old Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death on Well Hall Road, Eltham in a sudden and unprovoked racist attack by six or more white youths.

7 May Police arrest brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, and Gary Dobson. Luke Knight is later arrested. David Norris hands himself in. Key witness Duwayne Brooks identifies Neil Acourt as one of the gang.

29 July Murder charges against Neil Acourt and Knight are dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service rules evidence given by Duwayne is unreliable.


17 April Lawrence family launches a private prosecution against Dobson, Knight and Acourt.


25 April Judge rules that identification evidence from Duwayne Brooks is inadmissible. Acourt, Knight and Dobson are acquitted.


13 February An inquest returns a verdict that Stephen was “unlawfully killed by five white youths”.

31 July Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw announces a judicial inquiry into the murder to identify the lessons for police when dealing with racially motivated crimes.


16 March Public inquiry begins, chaired by retired judge Sir William Macpherson.


24 February Release of the Macpherson report, which accuses police of “institutional racism” and makes 70 recommendations, including strengthening the Race Relations Act. Also suggests the “double jeopardy” principle should be relaxed to allow retrial of acquitted defendants in exceptional circumstances.


4 April The double jeopardy principle is scrapped for certain offences when there is new evidence.


26 July BBC TV documentary, The Boys Who Killed Stephen Lawrence, alleges police corruption in the case, but in 2007 the police watchdog, the IPCC, finds no evidence of wrongdoing.


18 May Court of Appeal ruling quashes the acquittal of Gary Dobson in the private prosecution and orders that he and David Norris face a retrial over Stephen Lawrence’s murder.

14 November Trial begins at the Old Bailey.


3 January Dobson and Norris convicted of murder.

1 June Tory home secretary Theresa May commissions Mark Ellison QC to review Scotland Yard’s investigations into alleged police corruption.

23 June Peter Francis, a former undercover police officer discloses that while he was working undercover within an anti-racist campaign group in the mid-1990s, he was pressured by superiors to “smear” the credibilities of the Lawrence family.


6 March The Stephen Lawrence Independent Review is presented to parliament. Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said the report, which prompted an inquiry into undercover policing, was “devastating”. Ellison’s report also showed that there was substantial evidence linking an alleged corrupt police officer with involvement in the murder of private investigator Daniel Morgan.


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