Scotland Yard has been accused of ‘sabotage’ after they allegedly allowed the sixth man in the killing of Stephen Lawrence to evade justice.
Duwayne Brooks, Stephen’s friend who was with him when the 18-year-old was murdered, said he could have identified Matthew White – who was named as a suspect last week – had police put him in a line-up.
‘If they had put him in an ID parade in front of me at the time I would have pick him out 100 per cent,’ Duwayne told the Mirror.
He added he is ‘extremely confident’ other people at the bus stop would have picked White out, too, saying the case would have already been solved then.
Duwayne claimed he took part in several ID parades, but White was never put before him after being placed in the witness bracket rather than the suspect one.
Duwayne Brooks (left, next to Stephen’s father, right), Stephen’s friend who survived the attack, said he could have identified Matthew White – who was named as a suspect last week – had police put him in a line-up
Duwayne claimed he took part in several ID parades, but White (pictured left in police surveillance picture after attack) was never put before him after being placed in the witness bracket rather than the suspect one. Stephen Lawrence (right), 18, an aspiring architect, was murdered on his way home in an unprovoked attack by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993
‘It was a deliberate act of sabotage. He died without having faced court. It’s disappointing,’ the attack survivor today said.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, an aspiring architect, was murdered on his way home in an unprovoked attack by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993.
Stephen Lawrence: The racist murder that marked Britain Jamie Acourt and his brother Neil were teenagers when Stephen Lawrence was stabbed to death at a bus stop in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993.
Two of the other suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of murder in 2012 and jailed for life following a DNA breakthrough.
But the Acourt brothers have never been convicted.
At the time of Stephen’s death, the Acourts described themselves as the Krays, modelling themselves on the brothers who dominated London’s criminal underworld in the 1960s.
The gang they were in is believed to have been responsible for a string of violent attacks, invariably featuring knives.
Luke Knight was named as the fifth suspect by the Daily Mail. He has never been charged and denies being involved.
The case has brought great shame on the Metropolitan Police. Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville Lawrence have continued to campaign for justice for their son and have shone a light on racism and corruption in the Met.
BBC News detailed a series of police failings in handling information linked to him.
White, who died two years ago of a drug overdose aged 50, was treated as a witness by Scotland Yard – but the BBC’s report claimed that a relative contacted police and stated White had been there when the murder took place in Eltham.
His stepfather Jack Severs, who died in 2020, was only spoken to for the first time in 2013 and was shocked that it had taken two decades to be visited by Scotland Yard, telling Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll sarcastically: ‘You’re rushing this job.’
Mr Severs said that in the days after Stephen’s murder he saw White in the street in Eltham and his stepson admitted being there when the teen was killed. White acted like it was an ‘everyday occurrence’ and insisted Stephen ‘had deserved it’, he said.
White also matched the description of a ‘fair-haired attacker’ who ‘stood out’ and may have struck the first blow on Stephen.
All the other five suspects had dark hair. He was spotted twice in streets near the murder scene on the night in question.
Duwayne said: ‘The description I gave didn’t match the five suspects we got told about, but the police knew it was remarkably similar to this guy [White]. It’s sickening. I believe it was deliberate.’
The original investigation was hampered by racism and claims of corruption, with one of the suspects being the son of convicted drug smuggler Clifford Norris.
Metropolitan Police detectives had five names passed to them within days of Stephen’s murder, but only two of five or six attackers have ever been brought to justice.
David Norris, 46, and Gary Dobson, 47, got life for murder in 2012, as Dobson was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years and two months, while Norris received a minimum of 14 years and three months and will be eligible for parole next year.
The three other suspects Luke Knight, 46, and brothers Neil, 47, and Jamie Acourt, 46 have not been convicted and deny involvement in the killing of Stephen.
All five men were named by The Daily Mail as Stephen’s killers.
After the trial in 2012 of Norris and Dobson, trial judge Mr Justice Treacy said: ‘On the evidence before the court, there are still three or four other killers of Stephen Lawrence at large.’
Two original suspects, Gary Dobson (left) and David Norris (right), were convicted of murdering Stephen in 2012 and jailed for life after new evidence came to light. Dobson was sentenced to a minimum of 15 years and two months, while Norris received a minimum of 14 years and three months and will be eligible for parole next year
Jamie Acourt (left) and his brother Neil (right) were also suspects but were never convicted. They were later jailed for drugs offences
Duwayne was clear that he saw a group of six white youths cross the road and ‘engulf’ Stephen, who was hit on the head with a bat and stabbed, leaving a ten-inch knife wound in his neck.
He said he saw five or six people were chasing him, with the nearest one to him allegedly being White and told the Mirror: ‘He worked as a scaffolder and in my statement I described one of the attackers carrying a bar, like a scaffold pole, which was found.’
Matthew White was never named in relation to the case until 2012, during the trial of Dobson and Norris.
He was described as a crucial witness who had seen them in the aftermath of the attack.
It was later claimed that he had seen Dobson after he stripped his clothes off and had a shower. It was also claimed that he had seen the suspects washing a blood-stained knife.
But police never called him as a witness at the Old Bailey and he gave only a short statement. He alleged that the murder may have been an initiation by someone who wanted to join the Acourts’ gang, which terrorised the area.
The BBC has revealed that White died in 2021 of a drug overdose in a bedsit. He was said to be suicidal and depressed at the time.
White was arrested twice on suspicion of murder in March 2000 and in December 2013. The Met claim that on both occasions the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised there was no realistic prospect of conviction for any offence.
The Metropolitan Police this week apologised again for its handling of the case. They admitted they had made ‘many mistakes in the initial investigation’, including not tracking down Jack Severs. ‘This was a significant and regrettable error,’ the force said.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Ward said: ‘The impact of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and subsequent inquiries continues to be felt throughout policing.
Another Lawrence murder suspect, Luke Knight, remains living in south London. He denies involvement in Stephen’s killing
‘Unfortunately, too many mistakes were made in the initial investigation and the impact of them continues to be seen.
‘On the 30th anniversary of Stephen’s murder, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley apologised for our failings and I repeat that apology today.’
Duwayne said he feels ‘let down as a victim and a witness’ by police, adding he couldn’t understand how no one was ever charged with attacking him.
He now wants to carry out his own review into the police’s failings in the case as well as get a direct apology by Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.
He also hopes to learn why the Crown Prosecution Service has not ruled on whether four detectives in the initial inquiry should face criminal charges, despite their files being passed on two years ago.
The BBC investigation also found:
Another witness told police in 2000 that White had admitted being part of the attack. But again officers failed to trace him;Another UK police force asked the Met to consider if White was present during the murder, but Scotland Yard apparently did not follow this up properly;White had an alibi but lied. Detectives accepted his account; He was the only person who fitted the description of the ‘fair-haired attacker’ seen by Duwayne Brooks.Clive Driscoll, the officer who finally convicted Dobson and Norris, claims that former Met Commissioner Cressida Dick suggested to him in 2012 that he should not try to get the other suspects – despite the judge in their trial saying the police should try to get the remaining three or four;Mr Driscoll continued to investigate but says he was made to retire before he could finish that work;MailOnline has approach the Met Police for response to Duwayne’s comments.