18 years after the tragic, racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence in Eltham South West London, justice has finally been served. The accused: Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty of stabbing Stephen to death at a bus stop in an unprovoked attack that has taken almost two decades to be resolved.

Evidence: Blood-stained jacket

Forensic evidence played a huge part in the conviction of the two men, after a speck of blood on Dobson’s jacket, which could have only been from Mr. Lawrence  linked them to the murder. Additionally a single hair belonging to the teenager helped place the two men, now in their 30s at the scene of the murder.

Stephen’s parents Doreen and Neville wept as the guilty verdict was announced earlier today, having fought for justice for their son tirelessly. In an interview with BBC’s Panorama Doreen Lawrence said, “I don’t forgive the boys who killed Stephen. They don’t think they have done anything wrong.” In a statement issued by his lawyer following the verdict Neville Lawrence asserted he would not rest until all those who were involved in his sons murder were brought to justice.

Social media platforms have also been ablaze with news of the verdict. The trending topic #StephenLawrence is one of the most talked about subjects on social networking site Twitter at the moment as well as ‘Dobson and Norris.’ The majority of sentiments seems to be that the convictions are ‘too little too late.’ One Twitter user posted: “#StephenLawrence lived for 18 years, 7 months and 9 days. It has taken 18 years, 8 months and 12 days to find ‘some’ justice!” Whilst Stephen’s best friend, who testified in the trial and was with him at the time of the attack asserted, “Some JUSTICE at last. #stephenlawrence.”

Guilty: Dobson & Norris

Both men, who are reported to have protested their innocence in the courtroom following the verdict, will be sentenced tomorrow at 11.30am. Though the judge can administer the maximum sentence of life imprisonment for Stephen’s murder, Mark Quinn QC said the law required the men to be sentenced to ‘what would have been the punishment shortly after the crime had been committed’. This means they will be sentenced as juveniles – they were 16 and 17 at the time – and the minimum life tariff for those under 18 is 12 years, rather than 15 for an adult.

*Update* Sentencing has just taken place at the Old Bailey, Dobson was given a term of 15 years and 2 months, while Norris was sentenced to 14 years 3 months. While Dobson is said to have shown no response, Norris is reported to have blown a kiss at the public gallery. The judge has said this does not mean the case is closed as some of Stephen’s assailants are still on the streets.

As someone who was just 4 years old at the time of Stephen’s murder, I can still vividly remember the hurt, anguish and turmoil that was expressed by  those around me, in particular the black community. The details of the case are truly disheartening to know that it has taken so long to bring these two men to some degree of justice. I also find it to be a slap in the face of Stephen’s parents and all those who have fought for justice that there is already talk of a light sentence for Dobson and Norris. The fact that they have shown no remorse and were happy to go on living their lives, not owning up for the crime, I believe should be taken into consideration in the sentencing.

In the concluding months of 2011 the issue of race has increasingly been discussed in the media with racial abuse by top-flight football players and multiple viral videos of racist rants making headlines. The big debate has been the legitimacy of racism as an aspect of British society. I wonder if the Stephen Lawrence case will continue to add fuel to this burning debate.

Do you feel that justice has been served? Let us know your thoughts.

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