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Stephen Lawrence: Gary Dobson and David Norris to be sentenced

Gary Dobson and David Norris were found guilty by an Old Bailey jury after a trial based on forensic evidence.
They will be sentenced as juveniles because they were under 18 at the time of the attack, which happened in south-east London in April 1993.Police say the investigation could be reopened if new evidence emerges.
Dobson, 36, and Norris, 35, can expect to receive sentences considerably shorter than would an adult convicted of the same crime under today’s laws.The BBC’s Home Affairs Correspondent Matt Prodger says they could serve minimum prison terms of around 12 years each.
Scientists found a tiny bloodstain on Dobson’s jacket that could only have come from Mr Lawrence. They also found a single hair belonging to the teenager on Norris’s jeans.
Acting Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Cressida Dick, who ordered the 2006 cold case review that led to the convictions, acknowledged that police believe there were five people involved in the murder, but there are currently no “live” lines of inquiry.
“If there was an opportunity to bring the other people who were involved in that night to justice, we would do so,” she said.
Give up others’
In a statement read by his lawyer outside the Old Bailey on Tuesday, Stephen’s father, Neville Lawrence, said the convictions were a moment of joy and relief – but he could not rest until all of those who killed his son were brought to justice. He described the investigation and preparation of the case as “faultless”.
He later told Channel 4 News: “I’m praying that these people now realise that they’ve been found out and say to themselves, ‘yes I did this awful deed, but I wasn’t alone in that action that night and there are other people also guilty of what I’ve done’ and name them.
“I hope before the sentence is passed, they will talk and give the rest of these people that killed my son up.”In an exclusive interview with the BBC’s Panorama, Stephen’s mother Doreen Lawrence said: “I don’t forgive the boys who killed Stephen. They don’t think they have done anything wrong.
“They took away Stephen’s life and there is nothing in their behaviour or anything to show they regret what their actions have done and the pain it has caused us as a family.”Prime suspects’
The original failed investigation into the murder led to the Metropolitan Police being branded as institutionally racist.
Stephen Lawrence was 18 when he was stabbed to death near a bus stop in Eltham, south east London, in April 1993.
Police identified five men who were later named in a damning public inquiry as the “prime suspects”.
By that time, there had already been a catalogue of police errors and two failed prosecutions, one brought by Stephen’s parents.

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Scientists crack Black Death’s genetic code

Scientists crack Black Death’s genetic code

Scientists have mapped out the entire genetic map of the Black Death, a 14th century bubonic plague that killed 50 million Europeans in one of the most devastating epidemics in history.

The work, which involved extracting and purifying DNA from the remains of Black death victims buried in London’s “plague pits,” is the first time scientists have been able to draft a reconstructed genome of any ancient pathogen.

Their result — a full draft of the entire Black Death genome — should allow researchers to track changes in the disease’s evolution and virulence, and lead to better understanding of modern-day infectious diseases.

Building on previous research which showed that a specific variant of the Yersinia pestis (Y. pestis) bacterium was responsible for the plague that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, a team of German, Canadian and American scientists went on to “capture” and sequence the entire genome of the disease.

“The genomic data show that this bacterial strain, or variant, is the ancestor of all modern plagues we have today worldwide. Every outbreak across the globe today stems from a descendant of the medieval plague,” said Hendrik Poinar, of Canada’s McMaster University, who worked with the team.

“With a better understanding of the evolution of this deadly pathogen, we are entering a new era of research into infectious disease.”

Major technical advances in DNA recovery and sequencing have dramatically expanded the scope of genetic analysis of ancient specimens, opening up new ways of trying to understand emerging and re-emerging infections.

Experts say the direct descendants of the same bubonic plague still exist today, killing around 2,000 people a year.

A virulent strain of E. coli bacteria which caused a deadly outbreak of infections in Germany and France earlier this year was also found to contain DNA sequences from plague bacteria.

For this study Poinar’s team analysed skeletal remains from Black Death victims buried in London’s East Smithfield “plague pits,” which are located under what is now the Royal Mint.

By focusing on promising specimens from the dental pulp of five bodies, which had already been pre-screened for the presence of Y. pestis, they were able to extract, purify and enrich the disease’s DNA and at the same time reduce the amount of background non-plague DNA which might interfere.

Linking the 1349 to 1350 dates of the skeletal remains to the genetic data allowed the researchers to calculate the age of the ancestor of Y. pestis that caused the mediaeval plague.

Poinar, whose work was published in the journal Nature, said the team found that in 660 years of evolution, the genetic map of the ancient organism had only barely changed. “The next step is to determine why this was so deadly,” he said.

Johannes Krause Of Germany’s University of Tubingen, who also worked on the study, said the same approach could now be used to study the genomes of all sorts of historic pathogens.

“This will provide us with direct insights into the evolution of human pathogens and historical pandemics,” he said in a statement.

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