The detective leading the investigation into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence has insisted the inquiry is still live, 20 years after the teenager died.
Speaking ahead of today’s 20th anniversary of the murder, Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll said “all avenues remain open” and he and his team will follow any leads to try to catch the remainder of the teenager’s killers who are still at large.
Last year, Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed for their roles in the mindless killing of 18-year-old Stephen – who was stabbed as he waited for a bus in Eltham, south-east London on 22 April 1993.
A group of five or six men set upon the aspiring architect, but none of the other attackers has been brought to justice.
Mr Driscoll, who has led the inquiry since 2006, said: “It’s a live investigation. All avenues of the investigation will be left open and we will revisit them whenever we feel we have to. “We will endeavour to follow all the leads that we can.
“We would welcome anyone that feels that they have information that can assist us to come forward. It can be in confidence or via a third party.”
Stephen’s father Neville said he has not given up on the investigation, while the teenager’s mother Doreen said she will not allow herself to get her hopes up about any possible developments in the case.
She said: “When you put too much store on someone telling you this, something’s happening, you can get yourself in such a state that to be let down again is even worse.”
Five suspects were quickly identified by informants in the wake of Stephen’s murder, and two eyewitnesses at Dobson and Norris’s Old Bailey trial also mentioned a potential sixth attacker with fair hair.
However, the case against Dobson and Norris hinged on tiny traces of forensic evidence and the scientists involved have since said they had finished looking at exhibits in the case, suggesting there is no scientific evidence against the remaining killers
Sir William Macpherson published a report in 1999 that called the standard of command in the vital first few hours after the killing “abysmal”.
There was a two-week delay in making any arrests, even though five suspects had been identified by multiple informants, and the team was massively understaffed.
Sir William branded the Metropolitan Police institutionally racist, and there were allegations by lawyers representing Stephen’s parents that some officers were influenced by the former drugs baron father of David Norris.
An independent review is now being carried out into allegations of police corruption in the initial murder investigation. A final report is expected to be published in July.
‘When people do something bad, sooner or later they get found out’
Thousands of miles away from the public memorials to Stephen Lawrence, his father will today be marking the 20th anniversary of his racist murder in a simple and private way.
Neville Lawrence will take flowers to his son’s grave, a ritual that no parent would want to carry out. He will say a prayer with a pastor friend who has flown out from England for support.
“I have painted and freshened up the grave nicely, so it looks fine for Stephen,” Mr Lawrence said.
The grave is in a secluded plot in Jamaica. It was picked as somewhere for Stephen to rest in peace because Britain did not deserve him in death, Mr Lawrence notes.
“In England, I could not feel free and for my own peace of mind I had to leave,” he said. “I did not feel safe.”
On his regular trips back to Britain, and away from the spotlight, he gives talks to schoolchildren and prisoners about the impact of crime.
“It took us nearly 20 years to get this result [guilty verdicts] and we did not know whether we would get it,” he said.
“I do not know if I am going to live another 20 years but I have not given up on the detectives finding a way to get the others.
“I think that all those people who told me to give up do not understand the nature of love.”
“Whenever people do something, sooner or later they get found out – that has always been something that has kept me going.”