The parents of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence have said they will never give up hope of getting justice for their son as the investigation into his death was shelved by police.
Doreen and Neville Lawrence have campaigned tirelessly since the 18-year-old was murdered by racists in Eltham, south east London in April 1993.
Two of the 18-year-old’s killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were jailed for murder in 2012, but three remain at large.
Two of the three remaining suspects, brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, have since served jail time for drug dealing, while Luke Knight has remained free.
His mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence said: “I am truly disappointed that those others who were equally responsible for my son’s racist killing may not be brought to justice.
“I am very sad that a line has now been drawn into the investigation and that it is now in an ‘inactive’ phase.
“Despite this, I would still urge anyone who has any information that could help me get all of Stephen’s killers convicted, to come forward.
“It is never too late to give a mother justice for the murder of her son.
“Whilst the Metropolitan Police have given up, I never will.”
The original investigation into his death was hampered by incompetence, racism and claims of police corruption surrounding Norris’s father Clifford and his links to the criminal underworld.
In April 1994 the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution, and in September that year Mr Lawrence’s parents unsuccessfully attempted their own private prosecution against Dobson, Knight and Neil Acourt.
Five years later the Macpherson report, produced after a public inquiry into the case, found the Metropolitan Police guilty of institutional racism and made a series of recommendations on changes to policing and wider public policy.
Mr Lawrence said he was disappointed but not surprised that the investigation had apparently reached its end.
He said: “Over the last few years I have had to come to terms with the reality that some of the killers of Stephen may never be brought to justice for what they did.
“With the announcement today that the investigation has become inactive, I am conscious that the case can never be closed for me.
“I will always live with the hope that someone might come forward with evidence which will allow us to achieve full justice for Stephen – by bringing about the prosecution of the others responsible for his murder.”
Investigation into the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence will move to an inactive phase.
We secured two convictions but well known that other suspects were also involved – it is deeply frustrating that we have been unable to bring them to justice.
— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) August 11, 2020
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said it was “deeply frustrating” to know that some of Stephen’s killers will never face prosecution.
She 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.
“The investigation into Stephen’s murder will also be periodically reviewed for any further investigative opportunities which may arise; for example, with advances in technology.
“Mr (Duwayne) Brooks, who was with Stephen on the night he died, has also been advised of the decision.
“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.”
She paid tribute to Mr Lawrence’s parents for their tireless campaign for justice for their son, with the family waiting nearly 20 years before two of his killers were finally jailed.
Dame Cressida said: “As a result of ceaseless campaigning for justice by Stephen’s parents, profound changes have happened in policing, the law and wider society.
“I pay tribute to them for their courage and achievements.
”And today my thoughts are with them and all Stephen’s loved ones.”
There are separate ongoing inquiries linked to the case, including an investigation by the National Crime Agency and the Independent Office for Police Conduct into alleged corruption.
The case will also inform part of the public inquiry into undercover policing that is due to start next year, after it was revealed in 2013 that a police mole infiltrated a campaign group supporting the Lawrence family’s fight for justice.