The Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust has expressed its ‘sense of huge relief’ following the conviction of two men for the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993
Gary Dobson and David Norris were yesterday (3 January) found guilty of stabbing Lawrence to death in Eltham, south east London.
The Trust’s chief executive Paul Anderson-Walsh welcomed the ‘changed criminal justice landscape’ as a result of an 18 year battle to bring Lawrence’s killers to justice. However Anderson-Walsh hoped that Stephen Lawrence’s lasting legacy would be a ‘change in the social justice topography’.
He said: ‘The family is only too aware that had Stephen got on the bus that fatal April night, he would have escaped one criminal injustice only to be confronted with a series of deadening social ones that would have stood between him and his desire to become an architect.’
Lawrence had dreamed of becoming an architect since he was seven and planned to study architecture at university. He also set up a t-shirt printing company aged 16.
Anderson-Walsh said the ‘greatest desire’ of the Lawrence family was now to give to others the opportunity to ‘fulfill their potential in life’ which was ‘so cruelly snatched from Stephen’.
Warning the ‘reality gap’ between education and employment was becoming a ‘chasm’, he added: ‘The need for the Trust’s work is all the more acute in the light of recent surveys that raise real concerns around the employability of school leavers. [They found] the reason that business confidence in school leavers is very low is because professionalism or communication skills are lacking.’
Doreen Lawrence, Stephen’s mother, established the trust in 1998 to help aspiring young black and minority ethnic architects tap into the notoriously exclusive architectural profession.
Trust programme Architecture for Everyone, aimed at encouraging young black and ethnic minority people to study architecture, was backed by RMJM for two years.
Speaking yesterday outside the court in London, Doreen Lawrence said: ‘How can I celebrate when I know that this day could have come 18 years ago if the police, who were meant to find my son’s killers, [had not] failed so miserably to do so?’
She added that she felt ‘relief that these racist men can no longer think that you can murder a black man and get away with it’.
Doreen Lawrence previously told the Macpherson inquiry into the murder: ‘I would like Stephen to be remembered as a young man who had a future.
‘He was well-loved and, had he been given the chance to survive, maybe he would have been the one to bridge the gap between black and white because he didn’t distinguish between black or white. He saw people as people.’
Stephen Lawrence Trust welcomes justice for murdered teenager 18 years on