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Lawrence friend, 15, bailed for memorial attack.

A MIXED RACE youth has been arrested and bailed by police over the attack which left the Stephen Lawrence memorial plaque defaced.

The Sunday Mirror understands that the youth is personally known to the Lawrence family.

He was arrested at his home in Charlton, South-East London, at 10.50pm on February 25, the day after the memorial in nearby Eltham was daubed with white paint.

At the time of the attack it was thought to be the work of racists reacting to the publication of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry report in the Commons.

It was also revealed that a surveillance camera trained on the plaque did not have any film in it so the opportunity to capture pictures of the attack had been missed.

Home Secretary Jack Straw visited the defaced memorial with Stephen's anguished parents Neville and Doreen within hours

of the youth's arrest. They were said to be "horrified and outraged" at the vandalism.

Scotland Yard last night confirmed a 15-year-old youth of "mixed race" was arrested at his home.

A spokeswoman said: "He was released on bail pending further inquiries."

It is believed he was taken to a police station away from the area because senior officers were concerned about the "sensitivity" of the arrest of a mixed race suspect. A police source said: "You can imagine the surprise amongst detectives when we discovered who the suspect was."

Stephen an 18-year-old A-level student, was stabbed to death in April 1993 after being set upon by a gang of white youths in Well Hall Road, Eltham, as he waited for a bus.

The spot where he died is where the memorial plaque is placed.

At the time of the attack on the memorial, Mr Straw said: "Words almost fail me that someone would choose to desecrate the memorial to Stephen Lawrence." The latest attack happened the day after the Home Secretary read the Lawrence inquiry report to MPs in the Commons.

It said there was "institutionalised racism" in the Metropolitan Police which had affected the way Stephen's murder was investigated by detectives.

No one has ever been successfully prosecuted for his murder even though five suspects were identified to police within 24 hours of the killing, and were then named as the killers in newspapers.
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 7, 1999
Words:377
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