The Star Late Edition
Anger and relief for victim’s parents
LONDON: All the pain and frustration of the last 18 years was etched into their faces.
Now, at last, Neville and Doreen Lawrence were finally able to let their public composure slip yesterday. For about 20 seconds after the guilty verdicts were announced, they sat motionless in court, unblinking, solemn, silent.
Suddenly the masks dropped. Then came the tears.
After nearly two decades, the remarkable determination and quiet dignity of Stephen Lawrence’s parents was rewarded yesterday with their first taste of real justice.
They sat just a few metres from two men convicted of their son’s murder, members of the racist teenage mob who attacked their son that night in 1993 when he strayed innocently into their path.
They didn’t turn their heads to look at the two men in the Old Bailey dock, never uttered a word towards them – or their relatives.
After Gary Dobson and David Norris compelled the Lawrence family to listen to their lies and excuses for the last seven weeks, they walked swaggeringly towards inevitably long prison sentences and gave thumbs-up signs to relatives and supporters.
Dobson turned to the jury and declared: “You’ve condemned an innocent man here today. I hope you can all live with that.”
Outside – as the Lawrences calmly gave separate statements expressing their mixed emotions of anger and relief – the defendants’ families strode off defiantly, shouting and swearing at journalists.
After all the investigations, a public inquiry, a civil prosecution and years of agonising uncertainty, a tiny speck of blood and a collection of microscopic fibres finally secured convictions.
Neville and Doreen sat metres apart, estranged casualties of the immense strain that the loss of their son imposed on their marriage.
After the guilty verdict was announced, a forest of hands were raised in one-arm salutes to the two men as their supporters shouted: “Stay strong… don’t worry.”
Outside court, Doreen Lawrence said: “These verdicts will not bring my son back. How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police, who were meant to find my son’s killers, had not failed so miserably to do so?” – Daily Mail