Potential jurors in the trial of two men for the murder 18 years ago of the teenager Stephen Lawrence were warned on Monday they must start with a “clean slate” when trying such a “notorious” case. As the defendants, Gary Dobson and David Norris, sat in the glass-fronted dock of court 16 of the Central Criminal Court in the City of London flanked by prison guards, Mr Justice Treacy addressed a panel of potential jurors with a swift resume of the killing and its aftermath, which he said, had attracted much publicity and public comment over many years.
Describing it as an “important and sensitive case”, the judge said: “This case is concerned with the alleged murder by the two defendants in the dock along with other people not within the court, of a young black man called Stephen Lawrence.
“Stephen Lawrence was killed in south London in April 1993. There have been … a series of police investigations, and there has been criticism of the way in which the police went about their task, particularly in the early years.”
There had been a court hearing, he said, a public inquest and a public inquiry into the way the murder had been investigated, as well as comments about who was responsible for the killing. But the jury had to disregard all of that and try the case only on the evidence presented to them during the trial. Reading up on the case on the internet, or doing any other research was prohibited, he said.