White gang pounced on black British teen, murder trial hears
A black teenager was stabbed to death in Britain 18 years ago after a group of white youths chased him shouting racist abuse, a prosecutor said at the start of a high-profile murder trial.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, seemed to be "swallowed up" by the gang as they pounced on him, the Old Bailey court in London heard at the trial of two men accused of his murder.
The college student was stabbed twice and bled to death after two arteries were severed, prosecutor Mark Ellison told the jury as the trial got under way into the 1993 murder which rocked Britain.
One of the white group was heard to say "what, what nigger?", as they charged towards Lawrence and a friend during the attack at a bus stop in Eltham, in southeast London, Ellison said.
Lawrence's friend, Duwayne Brooks, managed to run off after shouting "Get up and run, Steve", said the prosecutor.
But Ellison continued: "Stephen Lawrence did not manage to get away. The group quickly surrounded him.
"One witness described that he was swallowed up by the weight of numbers and forced to the ground."
Medical evidence suggested one of the two stab wounds to his torso was inflicted when he was standing, the other when he was on the ground.
Gary Dobson, 36, and David Norris, 35, both white men from south London, deny murdering the teenager.
Nobody has ever been convicted for the murder, which prompted a major inquiry that concluded London's Metropolitan Police was "institutionally racist".
The murder and the subsequent inquiry are considered by many to be landmarks in the history of British race relations.
Before the trial got under way, judge Colman Treacy told the jury of eight men and four women to make their minds up based only on what they heard in court and not to try and independently research the case.
"The key thing is that you must only work on the basis of the information you receive in the courtroom," the judge said.
"I am sure you are all people of sound common sense and fairness."
He added: "You should keep an open mind in this case until you have heard all of the evidence and arguments about the evidence."
The inquiry by senior judge William Macpherson into the way that the original investigation was conducted by London's Metropolitan Police led to significant changes in the way murders involving black victims are handled.
The hard-hitting report by Macpherson, published in 1999, gave a damning assessment of the culture within the Metropolitan police and policing in general.
The London police force faced allegations of incompetence and racism, although two internal inquiries exonerated the force.
© 2011 AFP