The sixth suspect in the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence said he had killed before as he tried to stab a black security guard.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, an aspiring architect, was murdered on his way home in an unprovoked attack by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993, but only two of his killers have faced justice – Gary Dobson and David Norris were jailed for life in 2012.
The Met Police in June named Matthew White, who died aged 50 in 2021, as the sixth suspect in the case.
The BBC now reports a former victim of White’s said he told him in a 2015 attack there had been no consequences for killing ‘Stephen’ and said: ‘I will kill you, I’ve done it before, nothing will happen.’
Bethel Ikpeze told the broadcaster he was working as a security officer in Lidl in Eltham, south-east London, when he spotted White trying to shoplift.
Stephen Lawrence, 18, an aspiring architect, was murdered on his way home in an unprovoked attack by a gang of racists in Eltham, south-east London, in April 1993
The Met Police have said the take all allegations of racial abuse seriously and apologised ‘if this was not investigated as it should have been’.
Mr Ikpeze said White, a heroin user, responded with swearing and a stream of racist slurs when he was challenged, before attempting to stab him in the head and neck with a bloody needle.
He said he managed to restrain White until police arrived as White continued to abuse him with extreme racist language.
He told the broadcaster: ‘I asked him, ‘Do you want to kill me? Do you want to stab me?’ He said, ‘Yes, I will kill you’.’
According to Mr Ikpeze, White made multiple references to having killed before, saying ‘I’ve done it before’ and ‘we have done it before’, along with the name ‘Stephen’.
The security guard added that White said: ‘They’ve done it in the bus stop there to a fellow like me [Mr Ikpeze] in the past.’
Mr Ikpeze said he informed police of the exchange with White and uniformed officers said they would ‘run a check’ – but added he was never spoken to by any of the detectives who were still investigating Stephen’s death.
White was jailed for four months but did not face charges for attempting to harm the guard or for racially abusing him.
While in prison he is alleged to have admitted to a fellow prisoner that he was involved in Stephen Lawrence’s murder.
The Met Police in June named Matthew White, who died aged 50 in 2021, as the sixth suspect in the case
Bethel Ikpeze told the BBC he was working as a security officer in Lidl in Eltham, south-east London, when he spotted White trying to shoplift
White is understood to have been treated as a witness by Scotland Yard and not a potential attacker.
His stepfather Jack Severs, who died in 2020, was only spoken to for the first time in 2013 and was shocked that it had taken two decades to be visited by Scotland Yard, telling Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll sarcastically: ‘You’re rushing this job.’
Mr Severs said that in the days after Stephen’s murder he saw White in the street in Eltham and his stepson admitted being there when the teen was killed. White acted like it was an ‘everyday occurrence’ and insisted Stephen ‘had deserved it’, he said.
White also matched the description of a ‘fair-haired attacker’ who ‘stood out’ and may have struck the first blow on Stephen. All the other five suspects had dark hair. He was spotted twice in streets near the murder scene on the night in question.
A relative of White previously told MailOnline how Mr Severs arranged for his stepson to meet a police officer to tell them what happened on the night of Stephen’s murder, but the officer did not show up.
Metropolitan Police detectives had five names passed to them within days of Stephen’s murder, but the investigation was hampered by allegations of racism and corruption. A report into the probe found the force to be ‘institutionally racist’.
After White was named as a suspect, Stephen’s mother Dame Doreen Lawrence said the Met was ‘incompetent’, adding: ‘The latest revelation that a key suspect in the murder could have, and should have, been properly and thoroughly investigated is shocking but unsurprising. I have got used to the litany of failings in my son’s case.
‘What is infuriating about this latest revelation is that the man who is said to have led the murderous attack on my son has evaded justice because of police failures and yet not a single police officer has faced or will ever face action.
‘It should not have taken a journalist to do the job that a huge, highly resourced institution should have done.’
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said it understood that Mr Ikpeze had ‘told officers that White had shouted racial abuse and made threats to kill’ in 2015.
The statement said: ‘We aim to take all reports of racial abuse seriously and we apologise if this was not investigated as it should have been.’