“It was like a lynching from the days of slavery.”
Duwayne Brooks, survivor of the attack
It’s 22 April 1993. The Conservative Prime Minister, John Major, is struggling to lead the country out of recession. The Bluebells, ‘Young at Heart’ is No.1 in the charts and Madonna’s ‘Body of Evidence’ is the most watched film at the cinema.
But that’s only part of the world Stephen lived in. He lives in South East London, very close to Eltham. Eltham is a ‘notorious white enclave’. Ethnic minorities account for just six per cent of its population. The HQ of the British National Party is close by. Racism is simply everywhere.
For Stephen that day, it’s the usual routine, of school, a bit of window shopping, and then meeting up with his best mate, Duwayne. The two go to a relative’s house and play video games until late.
At around 10:20pm, Stephen and his friend Duwayne go to catch a bus home. The quickest route back means waiting at a bus stop on Well Hall Road, Eltham.
Stephen goes to the end of the road to see if the bus is coming.
A group of white youths approach. Gary Dobson is 17, his friend, David Norris is just 16. They are with at least three, possibly more, other white youths. Their meeting with Stephen and Duwayne is a chance encounter.
When Duwayne shouts to ask Stephen if he could see the bus, one of the gang of white youth yells back, ‘what, what n****r?’.
They surround Stephen, and unprovoked, attack as one.
Their targets, Stephen and Duwayne, are random. But their intended violence against their skin is premeditated.
Duwayne manages to make a run for it. Bizarrely, Stephen, one of the fastest sprinters at his school, doesn’t.
In a hate filled ten seconds, two stab wounds are delivered. One of the stab wounds penetrates five inches into his flesh. Both sever arteries. The gang move as one in the frenzy, and move off together.
Critically injured, Stephen now tries to run towards to Duwayne.
Blood is pouring from both shoulders and drenching his clothes.
After 120m, he collapses.
At 10:30pm, everything that Stephen is, and hoped to be, ends.