Father of Stephen Lawrence no longer thinks of his son’s killers facing justice
On the first Stephen Lawrence Day, Dr Neville Lawrence says he instead focuses on stopping further deaths
The father of murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence has said he no longer thinks about his son’s remaining killers being brought to justice.
On the first Stephen Lawrence Day on Monday, Dr Neville Lawrence said he instead focuses on trying to stop further bloodshed amid concerns about the recent surge in violent crime.
The national day to commemorate the aspiring architect’s life and legacy was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last year.
Mr Lawrence said: “I had hoped that my son’s legacy would have been all around us in the buildings he would have designed as an architect but unfortunately he was snatched away from us.
“I wish a day in my son’s memory was for more joyful reasons, but I am pleased and very proud that there is Stephen Lawrence day so people will always remember him and the tragedy of his death.
“With the level of violence on our streets at the moment I hope that Stephen’s day will be used to talk about peace as well as to remember Stephen’s life, which was cut too short.
“I don’t think about my son’s other killers being brought to justice any more. I am too busy trying to help the cause of reducing violence on our streets.
“Instead of being angry I try to use my energy to motivate children and tell them that the can achieve whatever they want to achieve.”
Mr Lawrence is President of the Violent Crime Prevention Board, that aims to reduce bloodshed among young people, partly by diverting them away from crime.
His son Stephen, 18, was murdered on April 22, 1993 by a gang of racists in south east London as he waited for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks.
The original police investigation into his death was hampered by prejudice, incompetence and alleged corruption.
Two of his killers, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were convicted of murder over his death in 2012 but the remaining three or four culprits have never been brought to justice.
Of his son’s killers, Dr Lawrence said: “I sometimes can’t even remember their names now. It has gone completely out of my mind.
“Sometimes people might think that you can never find peace in that kind of way.
“I am relaxed. I worry about normal things. I do not worry about these people. They will have to answer for what they have done sooner or later.”
Last year Scotland Yard said that the investigation would be shelved unless any new significant information came to light.
The aftermath of Stephen’s murder was a watershed moment in modern race relations in the UK, after the subsequent Macpherson Report into the case concluded the police were guilty of “institutional racism”.
The case remains under scrutiny as part of a public inquiry into the actions of undercover police officers, who are said to have targeted campaigners supporting the Lawrence family.
Last year, 25 years after his son’s death, Dr Lawrence made the humbling decision to forgive the killers.
The anger is gone and I don’t think about Stephen’s killers any more, I just get on with my life
He said: “The main reason I forgave Stephen’s killers was because I met the family of a boy who was murdered in front of his house. After they went to prison the killers requested that the parents visit them.
“They went and saw how sorry they were and they forgave them. I can’t see the future, and doubt that any of the people who murdered my son would want to talk to me, but I realised that I was capable of forgiving them.
“Forgiveness is like a huge weight lifting.
“The anger is gone and I don’t think about Stephen’s killers any more, I just get on with my life.
“That’s how powerful forgiveness is.
“It’s like a weight has been lifted.
“It has made my life better and I don’t think about these people any more.
“I leave them in the hands of the almighty.”
Dr Lawrence said he would meet his son’s killers in prison if they wanted to speak to him.
“I don’t think they will ever approach me,” he said.
“They have grown up and been brought up in a certain way and I don’t think they think what they did was wrong.
“These people will never get to the stage of accepting what they did.
“They think what they did to my son was fine because of their racist beliefs.
“It’s out of this world that they did something like that to another human being because he looked a bit different to them, but that’s what they did.”
He also recalled his family’s hard-fought legal battles, saying: “When we started out we did not think we could get any kind of justice. It took us nearly 20 years and that was because we insisted we were not giving up.
“Any young child, seeing some of the things we as a family have done, or any family who have seen what we have done, they can now try to adopt of the things we do and try and get success.”
Dr Lawrence said that whenever he now hears of a killing of a young person “whether it is a black boy or a white boy – it just brings me back to the morning when I woke up and realised that Stephen was murdered”.
There have been improvements in the ways that Britain tackles discrimination since Stephen’s death but Dr Lawrence suggests “there is never going to be a time when you can say everything has been done and we can sit down and relax – that is never going to happen.”
The Prime Minister said the murder was a “watershed moment for our country” that “demanded we wake up to the reality of the racism that still exists in our society”.