Lawrence officer 'changed records'
Published 29/11/2011 | 17:32
An exhibits officer in the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation deliberately sabotaged his own computer records, a court has been told.
A jury at the Old Bailey was told that DC Paul Steed changed reference numbers in his own records when he discovered he was being thrown off the case. He had been convicted of an assault in Spain and was relieved of his duties in the murder probe.
His successor, DS Alan Taylor, told the court: "He was showing me the files that were on the laptop computer and the schedule that he was preparing. He said something along the lines of 'I changed a couple of seal numbers'.
"He had not realised I was going to take over the exhibits role and said 'oh I changed them back'. He indicated he'd done it the night before."
DS Taylor was asked in June 2008 to take over responsibility for exhibits in the investigation and to look at how they had been handled and stored. He insisted that he would "start from scratch" rather than relying on Mr Steed's work, the court heard.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, deny taking part in the gang attack in which Mr Lawrence was killed in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993.
The prosecution argues that tiny amounts of fibres, blood and hair found on clothes seized from their homes prove they were involved in the murder of the 18-year-old student. The defence says the samples got on to the clothes through contamination during handling and storage.
In cross-examination, Timothy Roberts QC, for Dobson, said of Mr Steed: "In fact, he behaved in a completely spiteful and damaging way to this inquiry." DS Taylor replied: "That could be said, yes sir."
Their exchange continued when Mr Roberts said: "He sabotaged it so that it would be impossible for anyone coming in after him to follow through continuity of certain exhibits." DS Taylor answered: "I don't seek to protect him but yes he did that, and then he changed it back."
He was not sure when Mr Steed started in the job, but the court was told that he was in the role in June 2007. There was no suggestion that he had interfered with any other documents or original exhibits.