Killer-tracking scientists convicted two in the Stephen Lawrence case

Now catch Kelso Cochrane’s attackers!

Thomas L Blair © 23 April 2013, Chronicleworld

New police forensics helped convict two of Stephen Lawrence’s race-hate killers. Twenty years to the day of his murder, Prime Minister David Cameron and Britain’s most senior police officer attended his memorial service.

But will the forces of law and order resurrect the case of Kelso Cochrane, a Black man from Antigua stabbed by unidentified white youths in Notting Hill, west London, 17 May 1959?

Kelso Cochrane
Kelso Cochrane

“For more than half a century, the unsolved murder of Kelso Cochrane has been an open wound in Britain’s troubled history of race relations,” said Mark Olden, author of Murder in Notting Hill. In death, his name came to symbolise all the racial injustices of the time, and was known around the world, said Olden.

The comparisons with the Stephen Lawrence murder are fuzzy but chilling nevertheless. Like Stephen, Kelso’s death marked an era of pain, public sympathy and protest. Picture the grieving relatives of a Black man, dead against a backdrop of unmet social needs and simmering racial tension.

Like Stephen, the identity of the alleged killers became an “open secret” in the white community. This led to “accusations that the police themselves were racist for failing to solve it,” said Gordon Rayner, Chief Reporter, in the Daily Telegraph online 11:00PM BST 07 Sep 2011.

In the end, his persistent parents and public sympathy forced police scientists into action. 

Sympathy and street protests
Sympathy and street protests

The Lawrence case was a trial run of forensic and genetic advances applied to frontline policing. Blood, fibres and hairs can point to perpetrators, according to the Science and Innovation in the Police Service Strategy for 2010-13. 

Many seasoned observers believe that killer-tracking the murderers of Kelso Cochrane may be the best tribute to Stephen, and a boon to Kelso’s grieving relatives.

“They [police and forensic scientists] must go back and solve the Kelso Cochrane case, if they want to show our African Caribbean communities they are serious about bringing an end to racism”, said Alex Pascall, senior journalist when interviewed.

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