Stephen Lawrence: Two Charged With Murder

Two men are to face trial for the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence 18 years ago.

Gary Dobson and David Norris have been charged with killing the 18-year-old at a bus stop in Eltham in 1993.

Dobson, 35, and 34-year-old Norris were arrested last September but the development could not be reported until today for legal reasons.

In 1996 Dobson, Luke Knight and Neil Acourt were tried for murder in a private prosecution brought by Mr Lawrence's parents at the Old Bailey.

But the trial judge ruled that purported identification evidence was not admissible and the case collapsed.

The jury was directed to acquit the defendants and not guilty verdicts were entered.

Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge, sitting at the Court of Appeal in London with Mrs Justice Rafferty and Mr Justice Holroyde, said new scientific evidence has come to light that justifies the quashing of Dobson's original acquittal.

The retrial of Dobson is possible because the rules on double jeopardy have changed - they previously stated a person could not be tried for the same offence twice.

Lord Judge said no application to quash the acquittals of Neil Acourt and Luke Knight was before the court "but another suspect, who was not a defendant at the earlier trial, David Norris, was arrested in September 2010 and charged with murder".

The trial is due to be held at the Old Bailey in November, although another hearing has been scheduled in the next two months.

Stephen's father Neville Lawrence said: "I am pleased now. I can relax. I was so tense last night."

His mother Doreen told reporters the judgement had "been a long time coming but we still have a long way to go".

She added: "So, at this moment in time, all I can think about is Stephen and that perhaps somewhere down the line we will finally get justice for him."

The judges described the 18-year-old student as a "young black man of great promise" killed "just because of the colour of his skin".

He was stabbed twice in the torso on April 22, 1993, after being racially abused at the bus stop in southeast London.

Today's ruling stated that it was a "calamitous crime".

In a joint statement the Crown Prosecution Service and Metropolitan Police Service said they had "worked tirelessly with forensic scientists to review the evidence in this case.

"A full forensic review was commenced in June 2006. New scientific evidence was found and on that basis the prosecution applied for a retrial. We welcome the Court of Appeal's decision.

"In order to protect the investigation and ensure a fair trial, reporting restrictions were put in place in September 2010, which have now been partially lifted.

"Our thoughts at this stage go to Stephen's family, who have never given up their quest to see justice for Stephen."