The Stephen Lawrence convictions are an affront to justice
I feel like I did when Diana popped her clogs – the odd man out. The country appears to have gone crazy again. Once again, it’s an unpopular position – within minutes of posting a ‘WTF?’ comment on the Telegraph site, I got a mail telling me I was a racist prick. Well, I don’t think I am, and even if I was it wouldn’t change the facts – this is an unsupportable verdict
It’s simple – and it was plainly outlined in the trial itself. The techniques in place 18 years ago for gathering evidence, and storing evidence and analyzing evidence just cannot sit side by side with modern analytical techniques. We know, as fact, introduced in court and not contested, that the same officers attended the scene of crime, the Lawrence home, and the homes of suspects. We know evidence from the crime scene and the homes of suspects was stored side by side in unsealed bags. It has even been suggested that some evidence was stored in the same bags. Adrian Wain, the guy in charge of the forensic investigation wrote a report warning of cross contamination. He went on record, in print, saying he couldn’t say that the evidence hadn’t been contaminated – a decade ago!
This evidence was then subjected to the most intensive DNA amplification possible. And surprise surprise, there was matching DNA found.
Justice Treacy, to his credit, made reference to the possibility of cross contamination in his summing up – being certain that it couldn’t have happened, certain, was the first hurdle the jurors needed to take before they could even consider a guilty verdict. Certain. Certain there could be no cross contamination after hearing that the lab head had warned it was possible. How the hell could they then be certain?
No identification evidence, no motive, no weapon, no confession. And a teaspoon of contested forensics. And a british jury convicts on that. This is then described by the media as a great day for justice.
It’s a great day for hysteria. A great day for witchhunts. A great day for those in the media who’ve ranted with such certainty that this was a racist crime, covered up by racists cops, when we know nothing of the sort. A great day for the claimed ‘liberals’ who threw away our ancient prohibition against double jeopardy, just so this trial could one day take place. It makes me sad and angry.
I have no idea if this pair are guilty. They may be. But from this distance in time, with such pisspoor evidence, it seems to me impossible to prove. And it it cannot be proved then the correct verdict is NOT GUILTY.
The Lawrence jury have been, I feel sure, swayed by media and public opinion. If they had deliberated purely on the evidence presented in court,t hey could not have reached this verdict. I wonder if the court of appeal will feel the same way – my concern is that, generally rightfully, the appeals courts don’t like to overturn jury verdicts. And looking at the way the trial ran, and particularly the summing up, they may feel that the issue of cross contamination was clearly put to the jury, and they must have considered it. I just cannot understand how they can have done, and still brought in a guilty verdict.
Why do I care? Am I, as my dear correspondent this morning suggested, a racist prick? Well, I care because I do believe in justice, and in trial by jury – and I see what happens when mob rule takes hold instead. When the trial takes place on front pages, rather than court rooms. A guilty verdict brought in on the basis of nothing more than contested forensic evidence – no motive, no confession, no identification, no weapon – threatens us all. Black and white.
These guys might be guilty. Maybe even probably. That isn’t the damn point. Beyond reasonable doubt is meant to be the threshold for a guilty verdict. This one is beyond fucking belief.