Stephen Lawrence Verdict: 800 – Year Legal Tradition Tossed Through The Court’s Window

18 year old evidence Photo Credit: BBC

Double jeopardy is a procedural defense that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same, or similar charges following a legitimate acquittal or conviction. In common law countries, a defendant may enter a peremptory plea of autrefois acquit or autrefois convict (autrefois means “previously” in French), meaning the defendant has been acquitted or convicted of the same offense


The legal fraternity who follow BU should be very interested in the outcome of the Stephen Lawrence Murder Case recently settled. A pertinent quote from the case report: “Under the new system, a suspect can be tried again for the same offence if there is “new, compelling, reliable and substantial evidence”, which had not been previously available. As an additional safeguard, the Court of Appeal must decide if a retrial can go ahead and will then formally quash any previous acquittals.”

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7 thoughts on “Stephen Lawrence Verdict: 800 – Year Legal Tradition Tossed Through The Court’s Window

  1. It would be a very good idea if Government changed the law along similar lines to the British because I am still hoping for an inquiry into the death of Luke Bjerkhamn where a jury is called upon to decide on the evidence. I might be dreaming since were are not only dealing with the untimely death of a little boy: we are also dealing in the world of high finance that can influence the political and legislative processes.

  2. All of black Barbados knew that not much would have come from the Bjerkhamn case. In as much as we would have love to see the powers that be show some balls the end results is pretty much what all of us knew.
    However, to wish that the laws be change because of the Bjerkhamn incident, here in Barbados the Bjerkhamns will still go free, while the nappy head poor black boys do the time.

    • It would be interesting to get feedback from CJ Gibson on the Bjerkhman case.

      This is a pipe dream however.

  3. There are no similarities of “note” in the Stephen Lawrence and Bjerkhamn cases. In the Stephen Lawrence case, the Metropolitan Police made many mistakes in the initial investigation and in recent years tried to atone for their mistakes. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) laterly put a lot of effort in trying to bring a successful prosecution which they were able to do because of new techniques in DNA testing, which brough new “evidence” before the jury.

    In the Bjerkhamn case there is a feeling here (BU) by many, that the Prosecution was not as robust as it could have been. I do not know if due dilligence was not exercised in the initial stages of the investigation or if the taking of forensic evidence was not as thorough as it should have been.

    However you square it there must be a willingness to bring a successful prosecution by the Prosecution, the Police and the Establishment. This was clearly the situation with the Stephen Lawrence case.

    It has been “alleged” here those principles did not apply in the Bjerkhamn case. As a result a suitable charge for whatever reason was not brought, the “evidence” for that charge was not either sought or there.

    Hence no “evidence” produced. Without credible evidence there can be no safe conviction that is why the Bjerkhamn case rest as it does.

  4. That is an important move in law. One that I trust will be followed in Barbados at some point. It is also most encouraging to see racial hate crimes being pursued like this. But why the hell this case, which is extremely important from the point of view of development and changes to the criminal justice system of all countries, has anything whatsoever to do with Bjerkhamn, I cannot fathom. It is highly unlikely in any country that Bjerkhamn would have been prosecuted.

  5. The Coroner’s verdict in the Arch Cot case seemed to be well received.
    Was there an Coroner’s Inquest in the case of Luke Bjerkhamn?
    Should Faith Marshall-Harris be put on the case?

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