Detectives have no further lines of inquiry in the Stephen Lawrence murder investigation and it will be moved to an “inactive phase”, Metropolitan Police chief Cressida Dick has announced.
The 18-year-old was murdered by a group of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in 1993, and only two of his five killers have ever faced justice.
Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed for life at the Old Bailey in 2012 at the end of a trial that hinged on tiny traces of forensic evidence found years after the crime.
Two of the three remaining suspects, brothers Neil and Jamie Acourt, have since served jail time for drug dealing, while Luke Knight has remained free.
When the force announced two years ago that it was mothballing the investigation and it was unlikely to progress without new information, Stephen’s mother, Doreen Lawrence, said she wanted the probe closed.
However, his father, Neville, said he hoped the family could get “total justice” and that he would never give up.
Speaking on Tuesday, Dame Cressida said: “The investigation has now moved to an ‘inactive’ phase, but I have given Stephen’s family the assurance that we will continue to deal with any new information that comes to light.
“The investigation into Stephen’s murder will also be periodically reviewed for any further investigative opportunities which may arise; for example, with advances in technology.
“Mr (Duwayne) Brooks, who was with Stephen on the night he died, has also been advised of the decision.
“We were able to secure two convictions following a determined investigation in 2012 but it is well known that other suspects were also involved in the events which unfolded that night and it is deeply frustrating that we have been unable to bring them to justice. ”
She paid tribute to Mr Lawrence’s parents for their tireless campaign for justice for their son, with the family waiting nearly 20 years before two of his killers were finally jailed.
Dame Cressida said: “As a result of ceaseless campaigning for justice by Stephen’s parents, profound changes have happened in policing, the law and wider society.
“I pay tribute to them for their courage and achievements.
”And today my thoughts are with them and all Stephen’s loved ones.”
The original investigation into his death was hampered by incompetence, racism and claims of police corruption surrounding Norris’s father Clifford and his links to the criminal underworld.
In April 1994 the Crown Prosecution Service said there was insufficient evidence to bring a prosecution, and in September that year Mr Lawrence’s parents unsuccessfully attempted their own private prosecution against Dobson, Knight and Neil Acourt.
Five years later the Macpherson report, produced after a public inquiry into the case, found the Metropolitan Police guilty of institutional racism and made a series of recommendations on changes to policing and wider public policy.
Today there are still ongoing inquiries linked to the case, including an investigation by the National Crime Agency and the Independent Office for Police Conduct into alleged corruption.
The case will also inform part of the public inquiry into undercover policing that is due to start next year, after it was revealed in 2013 that a police mole infiltrated a campaign group supporting the Lawrence family’s fight for justice.