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'A painful journey'

JUSTICE: Ella Henderson speaks out on the Stephen Lawrence verdict

BRITISH JUSTICE has finally served up its first course. I, like millions around the country, punched the air in sheer delight when the news flashed across the TV screen last week that Gary Dobson and David Norris had, at long last, been found guilty of the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

It was a real ‘gotcha’ moment. One that had taken 18 long, painful years.
For a swaggering gang hell bent on bloodshed that fateful night in 1993, Stephen and his friend Duwayne Brooks waiting at a bus stop on Well Hall Road, Eltham, must have appeared like low-hanging fruit – easy to attack, without fear of consequence.

Little did they know that their murderous actions against a boy who they never knew but hated because of the colour of his skin, would hold a mirror up to white British society to show how it treated people who did not look like them. 

It is clear to see on the sad faces of Doreen and Neville Lawrence every minute of the pain they have carried since the moment they learned that their precious child had been stabbed to death. 

Over the last 18 years we have been witness to two parents caught in a maelstrom of grief and tragedy.


Weary eyes tell of the long hard battle they have fought for justice for their son.  One perhaps only a loving parent could have fought, and, I suspect, which will continue until the last of the murderous gang has been snared, and carted off to jail.

In her post-verdict statement, Doreen Lawrence set the mood when she said that despite the verdict, how could she celebrate when her son lies buried, can’t speak to him, see him go to university, get married or have children. Her ex-husband Neville’s statement, given through his lawyer, told of how the loss of Stephen and lack of justice had torn his family apart. 

Thank goodness only very few among us will ever have to experience this kind of trauma in our lives.

Only those who have walked in their shoes would know the emotional changes that occur in a relationship when a child dies.

As the statements were read out, and thanks given to the criminal justice system, the jurors, the Crown Prosecution Service which - let’s be frank here, raised their game 18 years too late - the romantic in me wanted this couple who had started this painful and overwhelming journey together to just fling their arms around each other to thank each other, if only for a moment.  But it didn’t happen – not in public anyway.   

Although a high price to pay, there is no question that Doreen and Neville Lawrence and their very special son made this particular patch of land a much better place in which to live.   

My greatest wish for them is much love and happiness, and for a soothing safe space where the healing process can finally begin.

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