Four of five Stephen Lawrence murder suspects now in jail as Jamie Acourt is caged for £4m drugs ring

Stephen was stabbed to death at a bus stop in Eltham, South London, 25 years ago in a sickening racist slaughter that shocked the nation.

His parents were then forced to wait 19 years to see two men – Gary Dobson and David Norris – finally caged over the 1993 killing and another – Neil Acourt – put in prison for drug dealing.

Acourt has today been jailed for nine years after he dramatically admitted his role in a multi-million pound cannabis smuggling operation – meaning four of the five suspects are now locked up.

His lawyer Michael Holland said this afternoon: "This is an instance of a man who was overwhelmed by events, events that have followed him since he was 16."

The 42-year-old and brother Neil, 43, headed a gang which moved resin worth £7.4million between London and the north east between 2014 and 2016.

He was involved in 28 trips which shipped drugs worth £5.6million, Kingston Crown Court heard.

Sentencing, Judge Peter Lodder QC told Acourt: "That you played a leading role is in no doubt.

"Unknown to you your operations were being watched by the police."

He also said a sentence of six years and three months passed on his brother was "lenient".

Acourt fled to Spain in 2016 after police arrested several suspects, including Neil's father-in-law Jack Vose, 65, in South Shields.

When officers went to Jamie's home in Bexley, South East London, he had already vanished.

Officers broke down the door to get in and while they were there his partner Terri-Ann Dean arrived at the flat.

She was told to get Acourt on the phone and he was told by the officers he should either come to the flat or turn himself in at a police station.

But Acourt was on the run in Spain and lived in the trendy Diagonal Mar district of Barcelona, until he was finally arrested in May this year as he left a gym.

He was living under the name Simon Alfonzo and had a passport in that name.

Jurors heard his brother Neil, now known as Neil Stuart, is one of six men who have already been convicted and sentenced over the plot.

Couriers made the 600 mile round trip to South Shields to deliver drugs and collect money – with 34 journeys were made over the two year period.

Once the money was collected, it was handed to Jamie or Neil back in South London.

Some of the delivery men were the fathers of their respective partners.

One of the conspirators, Lee Birks, is the father of Jamie Acourt's partner and another, Jack Vose, is Neil's father-in-law.

Another delivery men, Darren Thompson, was arrested in May 2015 as he was about to take delivery of 100 kilos of cannabis worth £200,000.

Vose was found with 100 kilos of resin in South Shields on 1 February, 2016, the court heard.

Neil Acourt, Vose, 57-year-old Birks, Paul Beavers, 51, Thompson, 30, and James Botton, 46, have all previously been convicted of conspiracy to supply class B drugs.

Stuart, of Eltham, was jailed for six years and three months, while Vose, of Bexley, was jailed for four years and nine months.

Thompson, of South Shields, Tyne and Wear, was jailed for four years and two months. Beavers, of Newcastle, was jailed for three years and four months.

Botton, of Greenwich, was jailed for four years and nine months.

Acourt was one of five men named as suspects after Stephen, 18, was knifed to death in a racist attack at a bus stop in Eltham, South East London, in 1993.

Two friends, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were finally convicted in 2012 and given life terms.

The fifth suspect – Luke Knight – is still living in Eltham less than three miles from where 18-year-old Stephen was stabbed to death.

Knight was arrested over Stephen’s murder in 1993, but charges were later dropped over insufficient evidence.

He was hauled back into court with Dobson and Neil Acourt after Neville and Stephen's mother Doreen, 65, launched a private prosecution.

However, proceedings failed in 1996 when the ID evidence of Duwayne Brooks, was declared inadmissible.

Knight is now the only of the five arrested over Stephen's murder not to be in prison

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