“The gravity of this case is in my view of a different order from, for example, a murder committed by one individual upon another as a result of some sudden quarrel. There was a degree of general premeditation; it was a racist crime driven by hatred; it involved a gang of like-minded attackers; a lethal weapon was employed and known in advance to be carried; the victim was completely blameless and helpless. The high level of public interest in this case is at least in part a reflection of the abhorrence felt by right-thinking people at the nature of this crime. This, too, should be reflected in the sentence.”
Thus Mr Justice Treacy summarised the thinking behind his imposition of Detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure upon Gary Dobson and David Norris – who were yesterday convicted of the murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993. The sentence is the juvenile equivalent of a life sentence and the two will now be imprisoned, or on release on license, for the remainder of their lives. Dobson will serve a minimum term of 15 years and 2 months, while Norris, the younger of the two, will serve a minimum term of 14 years and 3 months. These terms take into account the fact that the offence was motivated by racial hatred, but also that it was committed by a group of men who were juveniles at the time.