They called themselves the Krays and had the ambition to match. Led by the swaggering Acourt brothers, Neil and Jamie, and David Norris, the gang was steeped in violence and the price for entry to their club was a stabbing. A litany of violent incidents in and around the predominantly white estate where they lived was attributed to members of their gang and their associates.

After several attacks they thought they were untouchable on their patch, which covered southeast London and north Kent - and for several years they had good reason to believe so. All five were suspected of involvement in the racist murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in southeast London in 1993 but nothing seemed to stick.

But on Wednesday, Dobson and Norris were found guilty of the murder and yesterday they received life sentences. Dobson will serve a minimum of 15 years and two months, and Norris 14 years and three months.

Nearly 19 years on, the original suspects' circumstances are a far cry from their cocksure gang life of the early 1990s.

1. Gary Dobson

Whatever the Old Bailey jury decided on Wednesday, Gary Dobson was going nowhere. When he was arrested in 2010 for the murder of Stephen Lawrence, he was already in High Down prison in Surrey serving a five-year jail term.

He was caught in a police sting operation handing over nearly 50kg of cannabis worth £350,000 ($694,160) to another dealer, Stephen Fennell. Dobson, now 36, was the secondary prize - Fennell had been the focus of the undercover operation.

The Stephen Lawrence jury was not told that Dobson was serving a prison sentence. He had been due to leave jail in August.

The unemployed former van driver told the Old Bailey his own aspirations had been dashed after he was put in the frame for the murder of Lawrence. After the murder, he was sweeping up after an electrician on building sites and involved in petty crime. He was investigated in a people-smuggling case, but never charged. He was also investigated for handling stolen goods after neighbours saw him unloading garden furniture late at night at his former home in Westerham, Kent.

At the trial, Dobson, a father of one, claimed he had been spat at in the streets, received death threats and had become bitter and angry against black people and the police.

This was the reason he gave for being caught repeatedly expressing what he admitted was "moronic" racist abuse by a police surveillance camera hidden in the living room in his flat in 1994.

He also claimed he had Asian, black and Chinese friends - none of whom gave evidence on his behalf.

"Gary was a very nice boy, very courteous. If you saw him in the street he would always say hello," said a former neighbour who declined to be named.

"I was shocked. I think they are innocent. Gary was friends with my children."

2. David Norris

The jailing of David Norris marks the final ignominy for a once powerful criminal family whose malign influence cast a long shadow over police investigations into the murder of Stephen Lawrence.

When he was arrested in May 1993, Norris was living at his parents' luxurious home in Chislehurst, bought with the profits from his father's multi-million pound drugs empire.

When he was arrested in 2010, he was sharing a room with a cousin in a hostel above a Greenwich pub.

Norris, a father of five, cut a shambling figure, often changing phones and homes, and unable to hold a regular job. He has complained of mental health problems and at the trial needed headphones to hear what was being said.

It can now be revealed that his poor hearing stemmed from a prison attack while he was on remand at Belmarsh last year. Norris abused a black convert to Islam during morning prayers. The inmate smashed a television set on Norris' head, leaving him in a pool of blood with his nose and ribs broken and teeth knocked out.

Since the killing, Norris, now 35, has been in and out of prison. In 2002, he was jailed for a racially motivated crime after he shouted "Nigger" at an off-duty police officer and threw a drink at him.

He was jailed again in 2004 after breaking into a pub and handling a stolen car.

The jury was not told that Norris was cleared of attempting to murder a white man by stabbing him in the chest with a 23cm sword five weeks before Lawrence was killed.

Norris was also allegedly the stabber during an attack on brothers Terry and Darren Witham in June 1992. One of the brothers - deeply tanned after a month abroad - was attacked outside a shop and badly beaten. Norris was charged with wounding and Jamie Acourt with possession of an offensive weapon, but the charges against them were withdrawn shortly before the killing of Lawrence.

His mother, Teresa, claimed he was being victimised when he was jailed for the first time in 1999 for three months for driving offences. He was fined in the same year - with Jamie Acourt and Danny Caetano - for stealing empty soda siphons. At that trial, his lawyer said the man who once claimed to have ambitions to be a landscape gardener was "unemployable for the foreseeable future".

3. Neil Acourt

The snarling face of the gang, Neil Acourt was the man caught on police surveillance film tucking a knife down the waist of his trousers and urging his friends to get "chivvied up" with weapons for a night out. It was Neil Acourt who was filmed saying: "I reckon that every nigger should be chopped up, mate ..."

He was well-known on the estate where he grew up, and his house at Bournbrook Rd was the venue for gang meetings.

He was the leader of the group who emerged from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry after a stonewalling performance. He wore slicked back hair and dark glasses, and taunted angry crowds to fight.

He was charged with people- smuggling in 1999 after he was seen in a car at Calais with Dobson following a van carrying seven illegal immigrants. He was cleared but sentenced to 50 hours' community service in 2001 after a metal cosh was found in his car. The court was told he had changed his name to Stuart - his mother's maiden name - and feared reprisal attacks over the Lawrence case.

He was jailed in 2002 with Norris over the racist attack when he drove a car at the off-duty officer. His legal team claimed he lived a reclusive life after he became a suspect for the Lawrence murder, could find work only with family and friends, and was unable to form relationships because of the scrutiny.

He has been working sporadically as a painter and decorator and has spent time at a gym, fishing and playing golf near his brother's home in Sidcup.

Acourt, 36, has recently moved with his parents to a white bungalow in Eltham with a battered silver Mercedes 4x4 on the forecourt.

His swagger has been replaced by wariness, and he peers through the window at callers before opening the front door.

4. Jamie Acourt

Neil's younger brother, aged 16 at the time of the murder, now lives a life of outward respectability in a smart terraced home with his partner and two children in Sidcup.

That life follows a delinquent childhood during which he was excluded from schools after violent incidents. He was also charged with having an offensive weapon, a truncheon, in the attack on the Witham brothers he allegedly carried out with Norris, but that charge was dropped.

He is a notable absentee from the secretly recorded surveillance tapes filmed at Dobson's house in 1994, 20 months after the killing of Stephen Lawrence.

He was on remand at the time, accused of stabbing a man at Stars nightclub in Greenwich. Darren Giles, who was white, was trying to stop Acourt from attacking a black friend when he was stabbed in the heart and nearly died. At the trial, Acourt pleaded self-defence and was acquitted.

His neighbours told the Independent that the sharp-dressing Acourt, 35, was working in the car trade.

"If he was involved in that nasty business he now has a nice family and a nice house," said one man. "I can't imagine it is very nice for him to have it all dragged up again.

5. Luke Knight

Visitors to the home of Luke Knight on an estate in Eltham are given short shrift. "I'm just waiting for it to be thrown out again like the last time," said a woman believed to be his mother at the house before shutting the door.

The "last time" was an apparent reference to her son's acquittal when the private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family collapsed in 2006. Knight's parents have applied to have clothes seized by the police returned to them but the request was rejected.

Knight, 35, is thought to be living with his parents, his partner and at least one child.

They are fiercely defended by their neighbours. One woman, who declined to be named, told the Independent: "You won't hear a bad word said about them around here. I can't fault him - they are a nice family."

6. And the dad: Clifford Norris

The "evil influence" of Clifford Norris - who had been on the run for five years at the time of the Lawrence murder - was cited as one of the reasons for the suspects evading justice for so many years.

He was a leading figure in the south London criminal underworld. He and his brother Alexander were implicated in major crimes involving drugs and murder from around 1987. Alexander was arrested in 1988, and sentenced to nine years in jail in 1989. He had to forfeit more than £750,000 to the authorities over drug-dealing activities.

Police believe Clifford schooled his son and his fellow-suspects in the art of giving nothing away at a police interview.

When his son was charged with wounding in a stabbing a few weeks before the murder, he was alleged to have had a more hands-on role: he was twice believed to have met the victim, Stacey Benefield, and offered him thousands of pounds to change his story.

"This is how I sort people out, not by shooting them," he told Benefield, according to the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report. The case went ahead, and Norris junior was acquitted.

Clifford Norris was finally arrested and jailed in 1994. He was released in 2001.

His fortune has gone, and he lives with a large dog in a flat above a hardware shop in a seedy area of Ashford, Kent.


The Institute of Race Relations says at least 96 people have been murdered since 1991 in cases where racial hatred was clear cut or suspected. At least 15 remain unsolved - either because charges were dropped or because no one was ever convicted. Victims include:

Surjit Singh Chhokar
In November 1998, Surjit was on his way back from work when his attackers pounced outside his white girlfriend's home. Seconds later, he was dead, stabbed through the heart in an apparent attempt to stop him going to the police over stolen benefits money. Three men eventually stood trial for the murder - Ronnie Coulter, his nephew, Andrew Coulter, and David Montgomery. Ronnie Coulter stood trial first, alone, and blamed the other two men. He was found not guilty of murder but was convicted of assault. Two years later, Andrew Coulter and Montgomery were put on trial. They blamed Ronnie Coulter and were found not guilty.

Kamal Raza Butt
On a Sunday morning in July 2005, three days after four suicide bombers attacked London's transport system, killing 52 people and injuring more than 700, Kamal Raza Butt's badly beaten body was found outside a corner shop in Nottingham. Witnesses described how the 48-year-old Pakistani, who was visiting family in Britain, was set upon by a gang of youths. In April 2006, 17-year-old Mardell Pennant was sentenced to 18 months' detention in a young offenders institute after pleading guilty to manslaughter. Charges against Nathan Williams, who police believed threw the fatal punch, were dropped because witnesses were reluctant to testify. Four months later, Williams was gunned down. His killer has never been found.

Lakhvinder 'Ricky' Reel
Four years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, 20-year-old Lakhvinder "Ricky" Reel was with friends drinking in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey. His companions said two white youths racially abused and attacked them. One week later, Reel's body was found in the Thames. In 1999, an inquest into his death returned an open verdict. At the hearing, his mother, Sukhdev, accused the police of failing to take into account his friends' comments of the racist attack that preceded her son's disappearance.