Stephen Lawrence Appeal Case

4 August 2013

Gary Dobson and David Norris were convicted of the murder and given a life sentence in January 2012.  Their application for leave to appeal against their conviction has been refused by the Court of Appeal.

The procedure for appeals against conviction and sentence is that you submit an application for leave (permission) to appeal, which is referred to a single Judge of Appeal.  Any application for leave is supported by a formal document usually drafted by a Barrister setting out the legal grounds for the application and that document together with the case papers and any other relevant documentation from the convicting Court will be referred through to the Judge for him to consider as a paperwork exercise.  If the Judge believes that there are arguable grounds of appeal, leave will be granted and the case will be referred to for a full hearing in front of three Judges of Appeal at a later date, when full representations can be made in person by the Appellant or his or her legal representation.  Even if the single Judge refuses leave to appeal, you can renew your application requesting that it be referred to the full Court for a hearing however, you run the risk that if the full Court feels that the appeal had no merit and was effectively a waste of the Court's time, they can punish the Appellant by ordering that any time already served either on remand or since sentence should not be taken into account and the Appellant would effectively start their sentence again or have part of the sentence already served discounted.  

The sentencing Judge ordered that Mr Dobson should be required to serve a minimum of 15 years and 2 months before being considered for parole and Mr Norris should serve 14 years and 3 months before being considered for parole. In sentencing them Mr Justice Treacy had described the crime as "a murder which scarred the conscience of the nation".  The Judge went on to say he believed the murder was committed "for no other reason than racial hatred.  A totally innocent 18 year old youth on the threshold of a promising life was brutally cut down in the street in front of eye witnesses by a racist, thuggish gang".

It is unknown at present as to whether or not either man intends to renew his application for leave to appeal.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.