Stephen Lawrence: Timeline

Black teenager Stephen Lawrence was killed as he waited for a bus in April 1993. It took more than eighteen years to bring his killers to justice. Read the timeline to find out more about the twists and turns in the case.

  • 22 April 1993

    Stephen Lawrence murdered

    Stephen Lawrence
    The eighteen-year-old is stabbed to death in an unprovoked attack by a gang of white youths as he waits at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, with his friend Duwayne Brooks.
  • 23 April 1993

    Suspects identified

    Letter giving suspects names
    The day after the murder, a letter giving the name of the suspects is left in a telephone box. Police surveillance begins on their homes four days later.
  • 4 May 1993

    Family express frustrations

    The family of Stephen Lawrence have met the ANC leader Nelson Mandela.
    Stephen's family hold a press conference to complain not enough is being done to catch the killers. They meet Nelson Mandela two days later.
  • 7 May-23 June 1993

    Suspects arrested and two charged

    Neil Acourt and Luke Knight
    Police arrest brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, David Norris, Gary Dobson and Luke Knight and search their homes. Neil Acourt and Luke Knight are identified by Duwayne Brooks at ID parades as part of the gang responsible and the pair are charged with murder. They deny the charges.
  • 29 July 1993

    Charges dropped

    Two teenagers accused of murdering Stephen Lawrence were released from custody after the CPS ruled there was
    The CPS drops the prosecution as it says the ID evidence from Brooks is unreliable.
  • 22 December 1993

    Inquest halted

    Sir Montague Levine
    The Southwark coroner, Sir Montague Levine, halts an inquest into Stephen's death after the family's barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, says there is "dramatic" new evidence.
  • April 1994

    CPS refuses to prosecute

    CPS logo
    There is insufficient evidence to bring charges based on the new evidence, it says, which was believed to be the identification of further suspects.
  • September 1994

    Private prosecution launched

    Doreen and Neville Lawrence
    Stephen's parents, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, launch a private prosecution against Gary Dobson, Luke Knight and Neil Acourt. All three deny the charges. A private prosecution is the same as a standard criminal trial but not brought by the CPS.
  • December 1994

    Police surveillance

    Surveillance image
    Covert video shot over several days in Dobson's flat captures him and Norris using strong racist and violent language. Neil Acourt and Luke Knight are also caught on camera using violent and racist language.
  • 18-25 April 1996

    Private prosecution fails

    The parents of Stephen Lawrence lost their private prosecution for murder after a judge ruled against admitting vital eyewitness evidence.
    The murder trial begins against Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson at the Old Bailey. But the case collapses when Mr Justice Curtis rules that identification evidence from Brooks is inadmissible. All three are acquitted.
  • 13 February 1997

    Inquest verdict

    A coroner's jury into the death of Stephen Lawrence found that he was unlawfully killed.
    The inquest resumes and the five suspects refuse to answer questions. A verdict of unlawful killing "in a completely unprovoked racist attack by five youths" is delivered by Sir Montague.
  • 14 February 1997

    Daily Mail front page

    Daily Mail logo
    The Daily Mail newspaper uses its front page to name the five men it says killed Stephen Lawrence. It invites them to sue if it is wrong.
  • 20 March 1997

    Police Complaints Authority investigation

    Kent Constabulary logo
    The Kent Constabulary launches its probe, which nine months later highlights "significant weaknesses, omissions and lost opportunities". But it says there is no evidence of racist conduct.
  • July 1997

    Public inquiry announced

    The government ordered a full judicial inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence.
    Home Secretary Jack Straw says there will be a judicial inquiry into the killing, and to identify lessons for police in dealing with racially-motivated crimes. It will be chaired by Sir William Macpherson, a retired High Court judge.
  • 24 March 1998

    Inquiry opens

    Fighting broke out outside the Stephen Lawrence inquiry after five men who were suspected of involvement in the killing, left after giving evidence.
    The five suspects are told to give evidence or face prosecution. In June, they appear and are pelted with bottles by protesters as they leave, after being accused of being evasive.
  • July 1998

    Police apology

    Sir Paul Condon
    The Lawrence family call on the Met Police Commissioner Sir Paul Condon to resign. He apologises to them when he appears in October, admitting there had been failures.
  • February 1999

    Macpherson report published

    The parents of Stephen Lawrence gave their reaction to the Macpherson report.
    It accuses the Metropolitan Police of institutional racism and makes 70 recommendations, many aimed at improving police attitudes to racism. It also includes some proposals for changes in the law, including strengthening the Race Relations Act to try to clamp down on discrimination.
  • 6 September 2002

    Norris jailed

    David Norris
    Norris and former suspect Neil Acourt are jailed for 18 months for a racist attack on an off-duty police officer in Eltham in 2001. Norris, a passenger in a car driven by Acourt, threw a drink and shouted racist abuse at the black officer.
  • 5 May 2004

    Trial ruled out

    The CPS finally announces there is insufficient evidence to prosecute anyone for Stephen's murder following a review.
  • April 2005

    Double jeopardy scrapped

    Government drops the legal principle which prevents suspects being tried twice for the same crime.
  • 26 July 2006

    BBC documentary

    A BBC documentary investigating the case raises fresh questions about the prime suspects, prompting the Metropolitan Police to review their evidence. In October 2007, the Independent Police Complaints Commission says it has found no evidence of wrong-doing by an officer as alleged in part of the documentary.
  • 8 November 2007

    Forensics review

    Police confirm they are investigating new forensic evidence in the case after a police review, staffed by 32 officers, was launched the previous summer. It examined evidence gathered at the time, looking at opportunities to use new technology to find leads.
  • 7 February 2008

    Memorial opens

    Doreen Lawrence opens a £10m architecture centre in honour of her son. Two weeks later vandals smash its windows in a suspected racist attack.
  • February 2009

    Report anniversary

    Ten years on from the Macpherson inquiry, a report from a member of its panel, Dr Richard Stone, says the police have made significant progress in reforming but charges of racism remain. Justice Secretary Jack Straw says the Met is no longer institutionally racist, but Stephen's mother says police still fail black Britons.
  • 9 July 2010

    Dobson jailed

    Gary Dobson starts a five-year jail term for supplying a class B drug after being caught during a sting by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).
  • 18 May 2011

    Two to face trial

    Two men are to stand trial over the murder of Stephen Lawrence.
    Gary Dobson and David Norris are to face trial over the murder of Stephen Lawrence following a review of forensic evidence. The Court of Appeal decides there is enough new and substantial evidence to allow Dobson's acquittal to be quashed. The pair had been charged the previous September.
  • 14 November 2011

    Trial begins

    Two men, Gary Dobson and David Norris have appeared in court charged with the murder of Stephen Lawrence 18 years after the black teenager's death.
    The trial of Dobson and Norris begins at the Old Bailey. The jury hears that Stephen's DNA was found on the defendants' clothes.
  • 3 January 2012

    Guilty of murder

    Dobson and Norris are both found guilty of murder at the end of a six-week trial into the death of Stephen Lawrence. During the trial, the court heard that microscopic evidence found on clothing belonging to the accused linked them to the murder. The jury took two-and-a-half days to reach its decision. Both men received life sentences; Dobson was jailed for a minimum of 15 years and two months, Norris for 14 years and three months.
  • 24 June 2013

    Former police officer 'spied' on Lawrence family

    Peter Francis
    The prime minister calls for an immediate investigation into reports the police wanted to smear Stephen Lawrence's family. The Guardian claims former officer Peter Francis went under cover to infiltrate the family's campaign for justice in 1993. Mr Francis told the paper and Channel 4's Dispatches programme he was looking for "disinformation" to use against those criticising the police.