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Law stops long jail sentence for racist killing

Last updated 08:23 05/01/2012

Two men found guilty of the notorious murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence are given life sentences.

Gary Dobson and David Norris have been found guilty at the Old Bailey of the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence, 18 years after he was stabbed to death at a south London bus stop.
GUILTY: Gary Dobson and David Norris have been found guilty at the Old Bailey of the murder of teenager Stephen Lawrence, 18 years after he was stabbed to death at a south London bus stop.
AFTER COURT: Doreen Lawrence speaks to journalists alongside her husband, Neville, outside the Old Bailey following the sentencing of two of the men who killed the couple's son.

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A British judge has jailed two men to at least 14 years in prison for stabbing a black London teenager to death almost two decades ago.

The murder of 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence shocked the country and came to be seen as a festering racial injustice. It took 19 years before anyone was convicted, and three other suspects remain at large.

Overnight, NZ time, Gary Dobson received a 15 year and 2 month sentence. David Norris is to be jailed for 14 years and 3 months.

Dobson's father shouted out "shame on you" after the sentence was passed.

Judge Colman Treacy said the sentences were shorter than many would have expected as both men were teenagers when the crime took place. Treacy said that an adult today convicted of a racist knife murder would get a minimum of 30 years in jail, but as Dobson was 17 and Norris just 16 at the time of the crime, he only had to give them a minimum of twelve years.

He added extra time because of the racist nature of their attack and because neither had shown any remorse or contrition.

While sentencing Dobson and Norris, Treacy said the two belonged to a "racist, thuggish gang".

Another three men had been initially arrested after Lawrence's murder but have never been convicted of the crime.

The judge urged police to pursue the other members of the gang that killed Lawrence.

Police chief Bernard Hogan-Howe, commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, said the force would not give up.

"The other people involved in the murder of Stephen Lawrence should not rest easy in their beds," he said.

The father of Lawrence said he hoped his son's convicted killers would now identify other members of the gang.

Neville Lawrence spoke outside the Central Criminal Court Dobson and Norris were sentenced.

Lawrence said he hoped the pair would "go and lay down in their bed and think that they weren't the only ones who were responsible for the death of my son".

Lawrence's mother Doreen said the judge's hands had been tied by the law.

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- AP

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