3 Jan 2012

Lawrence murder trial: the forensic evidence

The trial hinged on Lawrence’s DNA and clothing fibres found on the defendants’ clothing. See the scenarios presented by the defence and the how forensic analysts ruled them out.

Lawrence evidence graphic.

Stephen Lawrence murder: timeline

22 April 1993 Stephen Lawrence is stabbed to death as he waits at a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, with his friend, Duwayne Brooks

26 April 1993 Lawrence’s jacket is photographed on a groundsheet on the floor of a disused Eltham Police station cell

3 May 1993 Gary Dobson arrested

7 May 1993 Met officers, who had visited the Lawrence home several times previously, raid Dobson and Norris’s homes and seize clothing, which is then taken to the same disused cell where Lawrence’s jacket was photographed

10 May 1993 David Norris arrested

May – June 1993 Three other men are arrested in connection with the murder: Neil Acourt, Jamie Acourt and Luke Knight

29 July 1993 Charges against two, Neil Acourt and Luke Knight, are dropped after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) says there is insufficient evidence

December 1993 A coroner halts an inquest after the Lawrence family’s lawyers say there could be new evidence that would allow a trial to take place

September 1994 Doreen and Neville Lawrence launch a private prosecution against the suspects

1995 Lawrence’s jacket is placed in an unsealed package in the same overbag as the package containing Dobson’s jacket. Another package with Lawrence’s cardigan also becomes unsealed and is put in the same overbag as the package with Norris’ jeans

1996 Exhibits were likely to have been handled without gloves when they were produced in evidence at the private prosecution

1996 The private prosecution of Neil Acourt, Luke Knight and Gary Dobson collapses after evidence ruled inadmissible

1997 Kent Police take possession of key exhibits while looking into complaints about the conduct of Met officers during the first murder investigation

1998 Exhibits returned to Met police, prior to the official Lawrence Inquiry

2005 Parliament scraps the legal principle of double jeopardy, which prevents a suspect being tried a second time for a crime, even though they have already been cleared

2006 Police launch a Stephen Lawrence murder review, saying they will use new technology to find leads

2007 Police announce new tests on evidence, including saliva testing. The defence says an old blood flake from the bag containing Dobson’s clothes and Lawrence’s cardigan could have dissolved during the test