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Pair convicted of Stephen Lawrence race murder in London

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 12:37 PM EST, Tue January 3, 2012
 A composite image of undated handout pictures shows Gary Dobson (L) and David Norris (R)
A composite image of undated handout pictures shows Gary Dobson (L) and David Norris (R)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Doreen Lawrence: "These verdicts will not bring my son back"
  • NEW: New scientific technology helped build the prosecution's case, police say
  • Teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered in 1993 by Gary Dobson and David Norris
  • Criticism of the Metropolitan Police investigation led to new efforts to stamp out racism

London (CNN) -- Two men were found guilty in London Tuesday of the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993, London's Metropolitan Police said.

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty at the Old Bailey courthouse after a trial based on new forensic evidence recovered after a cold case review.

Their conviction is the culmination of a case that has gripped the British media for almost two decades and resulted in a government inquiry that was heavily critical of the police for their handling of the case.

Lawrence's mother, Doreen Lawrence, told reporters outside court that she felt "relief that these racist men no longer feel they can murder a black man and get away with it."

But, she said, the court's decision is not a cause for celebration.

"These verdicts will not bring my son back," she said. "How can I celebrate when my son lies buried, when I can't see him or speak to him?"

She had harsh words for the police involved in the original investigation, saying they had put her family through huge pain and uncertainty through their failure to investigate properly.

"This result shows that the police can do their job properly -- but only if they want to," she said. "I only hope that they have learned their lesson and don't put any other family through what we've been put through."

Duwayne Brooks, a friend of Lawrence who was with him on the night of the murder and testified in the course of the trial, posted on Twitter: "Some justice at last."

Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, will be sentenced Wednesday. They had denied the murder charge.

Cressida Dick, acting deputy commissioner for the Metropolitan Police, paid tribute to the "courage and dignity" Lawrence's parents had shown throughout their long pursuit of justice.

"They have contributed to major changes within policing, the law and society as a whole," she said.

During the six-week trial, jurors were told of significant new forensic evidence recovered from clothing seized from the suspects' homes 18 years ago, including a very small blood stain on the collar of a jacket taken from Dobson's wardrobe.

DNA testing showed the blood was that of Lawrence. Evidence was also found linking Norris to Lawrence's death. The new forensic evidence was the result of "previously unavailable scientific technology and techniques," Dick said.

The defense claimed that the incriminating evidence was the result of cross-contamination after the clothing was seized by police.

Throughout the 18-year ordeal, the Lawrence family's desire has been the pursuit of justice -- today, justice was served
Paul Anderson-Walsh, Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust

Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death in southeast London in an unprovoked attack. He was a good student who had applied to study architecture at university.

The Macpherson Report in 1999 labeled the Metropolitan Police force "institutionally racist" and said its investigation of the murder was fundamentally flawed. It also made a series of recommendations intended to stamp out racism and ensure police were properly trained on the issue.

The report concluded that "Stephen Lawrence's murder was simply and solely and unequivocally motivated by racism."

Dobson had previously appeared in court in 1996 accused of the murder of Lawrence but that case, a private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family, collapsed and he was acquitted.

His latest trial on the same charge was allowed thanks to a change in the centuries-old "double jeopardy" law under which a person who had been acquitted could not be tried again for the same offense. In a change that came into effect in 2005 in England and Wales, a second trial is allowed if substantial new evidence emerges.

The head of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, set up by the teenager's parents to help young people who want to study architecture, said he welcomed the verdict "with a sense of huge relief."

"Throughout the 18-year ordeal, the Lawrence family's desire has been the pursuit of justice -- today, justice was served," chief executive Paul Anderson-Walsh said in a written statement.

"Stephen Lawrence's murder leaves in its wake a changed criminal justice landscape, but it is a change in the social justice topography that the Lawrence family hopes will be Stephen Lawrence's lasting legacy."

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