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Stephen Lawrence investigation moved to ‘inactive’ phase

Investigative review of all material in the case fails to identify any individuals

The Met has confirmed that the investigation into the murder of Stephen Lawrence will move into the inactive phase after no further suspects were identified.  

The 27-year-old case will now be managed by officers within the Special Casework Team, Central Specialist Crime who will review any new information.

The case will also be subject to review every two years to see if any new investigative opportunities can be identified with potential advances in forensics. Two officers from the investigation will be relocated to the Special Casework Team with their knowledge of the case.

In September 2010, two suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were charged with Stephen’s murder which was commited in 1993. This was only made possible due to a change in the law which scrapped the double jeopardy principle preventing Dobson from being tried twice for the murder.

In November 2011, both Dobson and Norris stood trial and were found guilty of murder in January 2012 following a six-week trial. Both were sentenced to life imprisonment.

The latest phase of the investigation began in January 2014, with DCI Chris Le Pere taking over as the SIO. At that time officers undertook the substantial task of an investigative review of all the material in the case, including previous forensic examinations and results. 

Working with colleagues at Eurofins Forensic Services, officers identified opportunities for further forensic work that they were able to explore with DNA technology, which had not previously been available.

A significant volume of forensic re-testing was carried out on more than 50 exhibits recovered at the crime scene on the night of the murder. These included Stephen’s clothing and personal effects as well as items from the core suspects.

Through this work, officers were able to obtain a DNA profile of a woman, taken from a bag strap discarded at the scene of Stephen’s murder. 

A public appeal for information was made in September 2016 to identify the woman, a potential witness in the case, with officers having already begun a DNA screening process. 

As part of that appeal, officers also asked for help on two other matters. The first to identify a man wearing a jacket with a distinctive ‘ V’ shaped emblem, seen on the evening of Stephen’s murder in the vicinity of Well Hall Road. The second, to appeal for a man who had called Crimewatch in April 2013 saying he had information about the attack to call again.

The appeal generated more than 40 lines of enquiry for the investigation team to work through. Despite exhaustive efforts, officers were unable to trace the individuals.

In April 2018, to commemorate 25 years since Stephen's murder, the Met issued a further public appeal for anyone with information about what happened to Stephen on the night he was murdered to come forward, and took part in the documentary "Stephen: A Murder That Changed A Nation", which also broadcast that month.

As a result officers received new information which they said needed to be thoroughly investigated.

Despite the efforts of the investigation team, those enquiries have now come to an end.

Since 2014, the team has taken more than 240 new witness statements, conducted a mass screening of over 360 women to identify the woman’s DNA profile extracted from the bag strap, created more than 1,880 documents and messages and raised over 1,580 actions to work through using a range of overt and covert tactics to eliminate information or identify further potential evidence that could lead to further convictions. 

The Commissioner of the Met, Cressida Dick, said: “The investigation has now moved to an ‘inactive’ phase, but I have given Stephen’s family the assurance that we will continue to deal with any new information that comes to light. 

“We were able to secure two convictions following a determined investigation in 2012 but it is well known that other suspects were also involved in the events which unfolded that night and it is deeply frustrating that we have been unable to bring them to justice.” 

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