British attorney general reviews racist murder jail terms

5th January 2012, Comments 0 comments

Britain's attorney general is reviewing the jail terms given to two men for the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence amid concerns they were too lenient, an official said Thursday.

Dominic Grieve, the government's top legal advisor, is looking at the sentences for Gary Dobson and David Norris handed down on Wednesday after a member of the public complained, a spokeswoman for the attorney general said.

Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, were found guilty by a jury of being part of a gang of white youths who stabbed 18-year-old Lawrence to death in an unprovoked attack at a bus stop in Eltham, southeast London, in April 1993.

The murder sparked a major overhaul of the police after a report found its investigation into the killing was marred by "institutional racism".

The killers were teenagers at the time and as such were handed juvenile rather than adult jail terms. Dobson received at least 15 years and two months in jail, while Norris was given at least 14 years and three months.

Under the government's Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme, anyone who believes a jail term is too lenient can refer it to the attorney general for review.

"Somebody has triggered that process," the spokeswoman told AFP.

"The attorney general has 28 days from the date of sentencing (to review the case) and if he feels it is unduly lenient then he will refer it to the Court of Appeal who will then decide."

Lawrence's mother Doreen, who had campaigned tirelessly for her son's killers to be brought to justice, said the sentences handed out were "quite low" but acknowledged the judge's hands were tied by official guidelines.

© 2012 AFP

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