Stephen Lawrence day 2023: who was he and what happened after his murder?

Stephen Lawrence is remembered every year on the anniversary of his death  (PA Media)
Stephen Lawrence is remembered every year on the anniversary of his death (PA Media)

The murder of Stephen Lawrence is seen as a watershed moment in race relations.

On the evening of April 22, 1993, a group of six white adolescents fatally stabbed Lawrence, a black teenager from Britain, as he waited for a bus in the south-east London neighbourhood of Eltham. Afterwards, it was discovered that Lawrence's murder was completely motivated by the colour of his skin.

Lawrence, who was 18 at the time, didn’t know his killers and they didn’t know him.

His murder has always aroused strong emotions, especially this week.

Lawrence’s mother, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, called the Metropolitan Police “rotten to the core” following the release of the Casey Review.

The report, released on Tuesday, found prejudice is “alive and well” in a damning assessment of the force’s failings.

Baroness Lawrence said: “It comes as no surprise to me that the report from Baroness Louise Casey has found that the Metropolitan Police is riddled with deep-seated racism, sexism and homophobia.

“My suspicion that racism played a critical part in the failure of the Metropolitan Police to properly investigate my son’s death in 1993 was borne out by the Macpherson Report.

“Since then, despite repeated reassurances that the Metropolitan Police had learned lessons from its failures, discrimination in every form is clearly rampant in its ranks.”

She added: “It is not, and has never been, a case of a few ‘bad apples’ within the Metropolitan Police.

“It is rotten to the core. Discrimination is institutionalised within the Metropolitan Police and it needs changing from top to bottom.”

What happened after Stephen Lawrence’s murder?

The individuals suspected were detained after the initial police inquiry, but they were not found guilty. The Macpherson Report, which has been hailed as “one of the most significant moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain”, was published as a result of a public inquiry into how Lawrence’s case was handled in 1998.

The BBC documentary Stephen: The Murder That Changed a Nation details the murder and focuses on his mother. She has fought for justice for her son for more than a quarter of a century, in a case that saw her son’s murderers initially walk free.

Where are Stephen Lawrence’s killers now?

After eventually being found guilty of killing Lawrence, Gary Dobson received a life sentence.

He is reportedly being held at Leicestershire's Gartree Prison in Market Harborough.

Dobson received a minimum sentence of 15 years and two months since he was a juvenile at the time of the offence, aged 17.

David Norris is also serving a life sentence after making an unsuccessful attempt to appeal.

Norris was transferred out of Cat-B HMP Garth, Lancashire, in 2022 and is now considered a lower-risk prisoner.

Three other men were suspects in the murder case but were not convicted.

Luke Knight is said to be a roofer who still resides in east London.

Jamie Acourt was on the run in Spain with his brother and was featured in a most-wanted campaign back in 2016. He was convicted for drug dealing and was scheduled to be released the next month, according to reports from October 2022, despite having not repaid £3 million in drug money.

Neil Acourt was required to serve only the first three years of a six-year sentence before being freed.

What is Stephen Lawrence Day?

Stephen Lawrence Day, which takes place every April 22, was announced by former prime minister Theresa May at a memorial service in 2018 marking the 25th anniversary of Lawrence’s death.

It is a solemn occasion marked by commemoration activities planned by the UK Government and the Stephen Lawrence Charity Trust, an educational non-profit devoted to the advancement of social justice.

The day is aimed at honouring Lawrence’s life and raising awareness of work that still needs to be done to end systemic racism.

Children and young people have the chance to speak up, promote the changes they want to see, and build a culture that values fairness and respect for all people.